Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 154 – Crystal Mountain (1-28-16)

SPHP had been expecting it, but hoping it wouldn’t happen.  Naturally, it did.  Lupe and SPHP had already successfully crossed South Boxelder Creek at least 5 times.  This time the creek was too wide.  There wasn’t any way SPHP could get across here, other than to wade the creek.  Nope, not doing that – not in January!

Lupe at South Boxelder Creek. This was as far upstream as Lupe could go down in the deep valley. The creek was too wide for SPHP to cross here.
Lupe at South Boxelder Creek. This was as far upstream as Lupe could go down in the deep valley. The creek was too wide for SPHP to cross here.

With the stream blocking the way forward, Lupe and SPHP couldn’t go any farther up the canyon.  Getting to Crystal Mountain (5,680 ft.) really was going to be an adventure now.  The question was, how hard would it be for Lupe and SPHP to climb up out of the canyon?  The canyon walls weren’t cliffs, but they looked pretty steep, maybe too steep.  Lupe and SPHP started backtracking downstream along the trail.  There was a place not too far back that might work.

Lupe’s day had gotten off to a good start.  SPHP had parked the G6 (8:46 AM, 32°F) at Boxelder Forks campground at the confluence of North and South Boxelder Creeks, about 3 miles (as the road goes) W of Nemo.  From there, Lupe and SPHP had set off walking along the snow-packed access road beyond the campground.  The road wound its way upstream past some nice cabins (one of which is for sale) in the South Boxelder Creek canyon.

Lupe's Expedition No. 154 started at Boxelder Forks campground, about 3 miles W of Nemo.
Lupe’s Expedition No. 154 started at Boxelder Forks campground, about 3 miles W of Nemo.

When the road dead-ended, Lupe and SPHP had continued on upstream following a single track trail.  Almost right away, SPHP knew there was going to be trouble.  The trail crossed South Boxelder Creek almost as soon as it left the road.  There wasn’t any bridge, but since the creek was frozen over there, Lupe and SPHP had been able to cross without difficulty.

Lupe starting along the trail in South Boxelder Creek canyon. This photo was taken just beyond the end of the access road, and looks W (upstream).
Lupe starting along the trail in South Boxelder Creek canyon. This photo was taken just beyond the end of the access road, and looks W (upstream).

Lupe’s primary peakbagging goal for the day was Crystal Mountain, situated on the N side of South Boxelder Creek canyon, about 2.5 miles W of the campground as the crow flies.  To get there, SPHP had planned for Lupe to follow South Boxelder Creek upstream a little over 1.5 miles, and then take a logging road up a side valley to the N.  From there she could work her way over to Crystal Mountain.

No bridge over the creek at the very first crossing had been a red flag.  South Boxelder Creek isn’t very big, but it’s too big to jump over most places and deep enough to get feet soaking wet.  If the creek had to be crossed too many times, sooner or later, there wouldn’t be a way across.

The trail went through a very pretty forest.  Lupe was having a wonderful time sniffing around and exploring.  Unfortunately, the trail repeatedly crossed the creek.  Each time there had been a way across – thick ice, a downed tree, stepping stones, something.  And then finally, inevitably really, came the time when there wasn’t.

South Boxelder Creek
South Boxelder Creek
Looking W up South Boxelder Creek canyon. The place SPHP couldn't cross the creek is just ahead. Lupe climbed N (R) out of the canyon from near this point.
Looking W up South Boxelder Creek canyon. The place SPHP couldn’t cross the creek is just ahead. Lupe climbed N (R) out of the canyon from near this point.

Lupe was less than a mile upstream from where the trail started when she came to the place where SPHP couldn’t get across.  She still had at least another 0.5 mile to go to get to the logging road where SPHP had intended for her to leave the canyon.  SPHP checked the maps.  According to the topo map, Lupe was in the narrowest, steepest part of the whole canyon.  Just lovely!

Give up and go back, or climb?  Silly question.  Lupe would at least try to climb up out of the canyon!  There was probably a reasonable route somewhere.  If not, then Lupe and SPHP would have to admit defeat from this approach.  Lupe wasn’t defeated yet, though!  Lupe and SPHP began to climb up the N slope of the canyon.  At first it wasn’t too bad.  Before long, Lupe made it up to a rock platform with a view.

Lupe quickly climbed up the N slope of South Boxelder Creek canyon to reach this rock platform. She still had a lot of climbing left to do. Photo looks W.
Lupe quickly climbed up the N slope of South Boxelder Creek canyon to reach this rock platform. She still had a lot of climbing left to do. Photo looks W.

SPHP could have backtracked a little farther down in the canyon and found a better spot to climb out, though.  Lupe had started up following a spine of rock coming down from the N.  As Lupe climbed, the rocks got bigger.  Soon rock formations repeatedly blocked further advance along the spine.  To the W were cliffs.  SPHP sensibly chose to angle up along the E side of the spine, but this side of the spine was getting steeper, too.

Of course, an American Dingo wouldn’t have had any problem getting across the creek down below.  And an American Dingo was having no problem wandering all over the steep side of the canyon.  Lupe was, in fact, having a great time.  She kept appearing above SPHP, looking down to see what was the matter.

"You coming, SPHP? This place is awesome!"
“You coming, SPHP? This place is awesome!”

Being human was the matter.  As the side of the canyon got steeper, SPHP tried to stay near the spine of rock.  At least the rocks provided some handholds and footholds.  Slowly, slowly SPHP was gaining elevation using rocks, trees, bushes, whatever there was for support.  Little patches of snow here and there didn’t make things any easier.

Lupe had 4 paws powering her up the side of the canyon.  SPHP mimicked her and crawled when necessary.  Crawling isn’t very fast under the best of circumstances.  Lupe cheerily sprinted this way and that to show SPHP how to use 4 limbs to advantage.  SPHP was a dang slow learner.

Little teeny rocks like the ones shown here kept blocking what should have been an easy route up the ridge, forcing SPHP onto the steep E slope.
Little teeny rocks like the ones shown here kept blocking what should have been an easy route up the ridge, forcing SPHP onto the steep E slope.

Over and over again, it looked like it was just another 10 or 20 feet higher to where SPHP could get back up on the ridge where the terrain wasn’t so steep.  Each time, after gaining the 10 or 20 feet and more, the situation looked the same.  Now and then, SPHP had to retreat.  Some places were just too steep, or snow was in the way making it too slippery.  Each time, SPHP found a way around lower down, and then made another assault up the slope.

Fortunately, Lupe lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota, not the Himalayas.  There is a reasonable limit to how much elevation one must gain to reach the top of even the largest mountains around here.  Nearing the top of the canyon, SPHP finally made it back up on the ridgeline.  Whew!  No more clinging and crawling.  It was January, but SPHP was sweating.  It felt good to just walk upright again.

If Lupe felt any different, she didn’t show it.  She’d had a great time climbing out of the canyon.  Lupe and SPHP continued on up a much gentler slope.  The first order of business now was to find a high point where SPHP could figure out where Lupe was.

Lupe came to an area near the top of a hill where loggers had really thinned out the forest.  The place was kind of a mess.  The highest ground seemed to be a bit of a march off to the SW near the edge of the canyon again.  Lupe and SPHP left the logged area to go over there.

Along the way, Lupe and SPHP followed a ridge from which there were partial views off to the NW between the trees.  Well beyond a fairly high forested hill, Custer Peak (6,804 ft.) and even more distant Terry Peak (7,064 ft.) could be seen.  With snow on them, they both looked rather grand.  Lupe visited a couple of high points along the ridge, and finally arrived at the highest spot of all at the SW end.

Lupe reaches the SW high point at the end of the ridge after climbing up out of South Boxelder Creek canyon. Was that flat ridge seen to the W, Crystal Mountain? Photo looks WSW.
Lupe reaches the SW high point at the end of the ridge after climbing up out of South Boxelder Creek canyon. Was that flat ridge seen to the W, Crystal Mountain? Photo looks WSW.

New problem.  Or, perhaps just a restatement of the former problem.  The question really wasn’t, where is Lupe?  Lupe was right here.  The real question was, where is Crystal Mountain?  It seemed like Lupe and SPHP ought to be able to see it from up here.  There was a high flat ridge off to the W, or maybe WSW, but was that it?  It didn’t seem right.  It looked too big, flat, and not quite high enough.  Nothing else really stood out as a possibility, though.

Lupe and SPHP moved around a bit to another vantage point, but the view was to the S across South Boxelder Creek canyon.  Pretty, but most definitely the wrong direction to look for Crystal Mountain.  Time to take a break and review the maps.  Lupe wasn’t hungry yet.  SPHP munched an apple.

The break spot. Photo looks S across South Boxelder Creek canyon. Pretty, but Crystal Mountain wasn't in this direction.
The break spot. Photo looks S across South Boxelder Creek canyon. Pretty, but Crystal Mountain wasn’t in this direction.

After devouring the apple, admiring the view to the S, and studying the maps, the exciting conclusion was that SPHP didn’t know where Crystal Mountain was.  That big flat ridge Lupe had seen might be it, but still didn’t seem right.  Lupe was just going to have to head NW.  Crystal Mountain hadn’t moved.  It was out there somewhere.

Going NW meant losing a lot of hard won elevation, but there was no way to avoid it.  There was quite a bit of snow on the ground as Lupe and SPHP entered another section of recently logged mountainside and started down the slope.  Custer Peak and Terry Peak were back in view.  And so was that fairly high forested mountain in the foreground.

SPHP stopped.  Earlier, SPHP hadn’t paid too much attention to it.  It had seemed too far N.  Maybe it wasn’t.  The longer SPHP looked at it, the more obvious it seemed that the forested mountain had to be Crystal Mountain.  Nothing else around was as high or shaped right.  Lupe’s peakbagging goal was in sight!  For some reason, it seemed like a thrilling discovery.

Crystal Mountain. Terry Peak is seen on the horizon on the R. Photo looks WNW.
Crystal Mountain. Terry Peak is seen on the horizon on the R. Photo looks WNW.

Lupe still had quite a trek ahead of her to get to Crystal Mountain.  As Lupe went down the snowy slope, the mountain disappeared from view.  Lupe lost over 300 feet of elevation, and then crossed a road a short distance S of a saddle between ridges.  The road was the one SPHP had originally intended for Lupe to take up from South Boxelder Creek.

Lupe and SPHP climbed up onto the next ridge to the NW.  The area was fairly heavily forested, so there weren’t any clear views of Crystal Mountain, but there were often glimpses of it between the trees.  Lupe had a wonderful time following the ridge.  She ran and ran.  There were patches of snow to roll in, and lots of scents to follow.  There was a lot of up and down along the way, but no serious elevation changes.

The ridge started off heading N, but slowly swept around to the NW and then W.  By the time Lupe was close to Crystal Mountain, she was approaching it from the NE.  Lupe finally reached an open field where there was a clear view of Crystal Mountain ahead.  It wasn’t too far away now!

Lupe getting close to Crystal Mountain. Photo looks SW.
Lupe getting close to Crystal Mountain. Photo looks SW.

For a little while as Lupe headed directly toward Crystal Mountain, SPHP was worried she might not be able to climb it.  The mountain looked very rocky.  Big rock walls could be seen up along the top of the ridgeline.  There was quite a bit of snow on the NE side of the mountain.  The last part of the way up looked steep.

Lupe climbing the NE slope of Crystal Mountain. It was actually pretty easy and not a long climb.
Lupe climbing the NE slope of Crystal Mountain. It was actually pretty easy and not a long climb.

As it turned out, the climb wasn’t bad at all.  Climbing out of South Boxelder Creek canyon had been much tougher.  Lupe reached the E summit ridge at an opening separating two huge rock formations.  Fortunately this gap provided easy passage between them.  Once beyond the rock formations, Lupe and SPHP could see there was another summit ridge farther W, too.

The top of Crystal Mountain was really interesting.  The E summit ridge ran NW/SE and had some tall vertical rock walls.  If not for the opening in the wall Lupe had climbed up to, it would have been very hard to scale the mountain from the NE.  The rock formations were large and impressive.  There were cliffs with overhanging rocks.  Some of the rocks were quite colorful.

Lupe on the SW side of the rock wall a short distance NW of the gap she came up through. These rocks are part of the E summit ridge.
Lupe on the SW side of the rock wall a short distance NW of the gap she came up through. These rocks are part of the E summit ridge.
Colorful rocks were decorated with even more colorful lichens.
Colorful rocks were decorated with even more colorful lichens.

Lupe’s first task on Crystal Mountain was to explore the E ridge, where it seemed likely the true summit could be found.  The highest rocks were to the SE of where Lupe came through the opening between rock formations, but how to get to up on top?  A very high rock wall extending to the SE looked like it would be impossible for Lupe to climb.  Almost as soon as Lupe started following it SE, though, she came to a break in the wall where there was an easy path to the top.

Lupe's easy path up to the top of the E ridge. She accessed this path from the SW. The rocks SPHP believes are most likely the true summit of Crystal Mountain are close by. Lupe is almost there!
Lupe’s easy path up to the top of the E ridge. She accessed this path from the SW. The rocks SPHP believes are most likely the true summit of Crystal Mountain are close by. Lupe is almost there!

In practically no time at all, Lupe was on top of Crystal Mountain!  Lupe agreed to pose for a couple of photos to commemorate her success.  Lupe looked great, as usual, but the views were rather disappointing.  There were a lot of trees around, including a fair number of big dead ones.  When they eventually fall over, the views will improve.  As it was, about the only distant view was a narrow one off to the S.

It seemed like it had been a long journey to Crystal Mountain.  Break time!  SPHP was surprised that Lupe still wasn’t hungry.  She only ate a little Taste of the Wild.  What she really wanted to do was curl up in the sun and doze.  While Lupe relaxed, SPHP studied the topo maps again.

Lupe reaches the very top of Crystal Mountain. This is the high point farthest N along the E ridge. SPHP believes Lupe is at the true summit here, but there were two other candidates for the honor on the mountain, too. Lupe visited both of them as well. Photo looks NW.
Lupe reaches the very top of Crystal Mountain. This is the high point farthest N along the E ridge. SPHP believes Lupe is at the true summit here, but there were two other candidates for the honor on the mountain, too. Lupe visited both of them as well. Photo looks NW.
Lupe still at the first high point (northernmost on the E ridge) on Crystal Mountain. Photo looks S.
Lupe still at the first high point (northernmost on the E ridge) on Crystal Mountain. Photo looks S.
"Nope, you got 2 photos already up here! Enough already! I'm leaving to take a little nap in the warm sun."
“Nope, you got 2 photos already up here! Enough already! I’m leaving to take a little nap in the warm sun.”

This first high point Lupe had reached wasn’t the only possible location of the true summit on Crystal Mountain.  According to the topo map, the W ridge and a small area farther to the SE on the E ridge all reached the same contour.  It was possible the true summit was over at one of those alternate locations.  To really claim a 100% certain peakbagging success, Lupe would need to go check them out.

Pretty soon, Lupe was ready to go again.  SPHP and Lupe went back down her path up to this place, and headed farther SE along the big rock wall.  Soon, SPHP saw a cairn ahead sitting up on a big boulder.  This was the 2nd possible location of the true summit along the E ridge.  SPHP didn’t think it was quite as high as where Lupe had just been, but hoped there was a way to get up to the cairn.  Continuing SE along the rock wall, Lupe very quickly arrived at a place where she could easily climb up.

The path up to the cairn at the SE high point. There were some great open views off to the NE and E from up on this part of the ridge. Photo looks N.
The path up to the cairn at the SE high point. There were some great open views off to the NE and E from up on this part of the ridge. Photo looks N.
Lupe on her way up to the SE cairn.
Lupe on her way up to the SE cairn.

The big boulder the SE cairn was on was at the very NW end of Lupe’s route up to it.  Lupe got right up on the boulder next to the cairn without any problem.  While SPHP doesn’t think this cairn is at the actual true summit, it’s possible it is.  Due to the forest, the three highest points on the mountain can’t be seen from one another, making it hard to tell with certainty which high point is the true summit.

More interesting than the cairn was the sweeping panoramic view off to the E.  Crystal Mountain is higher than anything else off in that direction, making it a great vantage point.  Lupe could see Green Top (5,360 ft.) where she had been on Expedition No. 153 just 5 days earlier.  Parts of White Mansion (5,340 ft.) were visible, too, but Green Top hid most of it.  They were both so far away, they didn’t look too impressive from Crystal Mountain.

Lupe at the cairn at the SE high point of the E ridge on Crystal Mountain. Photo looks N.
Lupe at the cairn at the SE high point of the E ridge on Crystal Mountain. Photo looks N.

It was clear there weren’t any higher spots farther SE from the cairn, but the ridgeline was so interesting, Lupe and SPHP followed it all the way to the end.  The rock formations along the way seemed unusual.  To the NE was a cliff, but to the SW the rocks formed a couple of big terraces, with plenty of room to walk along each level.

Even using the telephoto lens, Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) looks pretty far away from Crystal Mountain. Photo looks S.
Even using the telephoto lens, Harney Peak (7,242 ft.)  looks pretty far away from Crystal Mountain. Photo looks S.
Lupe at the SE end of the E ridge. Photo looks SE across the South Boxelder Creek canyon.
Lupe at the SE end of the E ridge. Photo looks SE across the South Boxelder Creek canyon.

After having a look at the views from the very SE end of the E ridge, it was time for Lupe to go check out the last possible location of the true summit of Crystal Mountain over at the W ridge.  She journeyed NW back along the rock terraces, and turned W when the terrain allowed.  Soon she was up on the W ridge.

The S end of the W ridge was much wider than the N end.  The S end featured a clearing full of grass and small rocks where the ground sloped off toward the SW.  There weren’t any views, since the clearing was pretty much surrounded by trees.  The N end of the ridge looked much more interesting.  It was much narrower and very rocky.  At the highest point, a couple of rocks could be seen displayed against the sky.

There should be some great views from there!  Lupe and SPHP headed for the promising high point of the W ridge.

Lupe reaches the top of the W ridge on Crystal Mountain.
Lupe reaches the top of the W ridge on Crystal Mountain.
Whether or not the high point of the W ridge was the true summit, it was certainly the most dramatic high point on the mountain.
Whether or not the high point of the W ridge was the true summit, it was certainly the most dramatic high point on the mountain.

A big rock formation extended farther out to the NW beyond the highest rocks.  The W summit certainly provided some big views to the N and NE.  SPHP was a bit disappointed that a few poorly placed trees blocked Lupe’s view of Custer Peak to the NW.  Lupe and SPHP climbed down onto the ledge to the NW, but never got a clear view of Custer Peak, though it might have been possible to gain one with more scrambling around.

Looking W from the W ridge.
Looking W from the W ridge.

Lupe had now been to all three possible locations of the true summit of Crystal Mountain.  She could legitimately claim a peakbagging success.  Crystal Mountain had been a lot of fun to explore, and Lupe had spent quite a bit of time up here.  The position of the sun was now indicating Lupe’s time on Crystal Mountain should be drawing to a close.

Before leaving the mountain, Lupe and SPHP did a little more exploring among some of the dramatic rock formations NW of the gap in the E ridge where she had originally climbed up.  Then it really was time to go.

Lupe returns to the SW side of the rock wall on the E ridge.
Lupe returns to the SW side of the rock wall on the E ridge.
Lupe among the rocks NW of the gap in the E ridge.
Lupe among the rocks NW of the gap in the E ridge.

Lupe and SPHP left Crystal Mountain the same way she came up.  Most of Lupe’s journey back to the G6 was along the same general route she had taken to get to Crystal Mountain.  But SPHP didn’t want to go back down the same steep rocky spine that Lupe had climbed coming out of South Boxelder Creek canyon.  An alternate route down a valley farther E proved to be a little less steep, and significantly easier.

Down in the canyon, Lupe found herself far enough E so she only had to cross South Boxelder Creek twice to reach the road back to the G6.  At 4:46 PM (44°F), Lupe was back at Boxelder Forks campground.  Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 154 to Crystal Mountain had taken exactly 8 hours.  SPHP noticed that it really wasn’t dark out yet.  Not as dark as it would have been a month ago.  Time goes by.

A Carolina Dog hopped in the G6 and looked at SPHP expectantly.  “Yeah, time sure does go by.  I haven’t eaten hardly a thing all day!  Now, I’m famished!  How about taking me home for some Alpo?”

Lupe had fun on the way back from Crystal Mountain, too! There's a squirrel way up there. Exciting times!
Lupe had fun on the way back from Crystal Mountain, too! There’s a squirrel way up there. Exciting times!

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s Black Hills Expeditions Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 153 – Steamboat Rock, Pugg’s Keep & Green Top (1-23-16)

9:42 AM (44°F), a beautiful and warm (for January) sunny day, and Lupe was back!  She had been here once before, almost 3 years ago.  Way back on February 9, 2013, near the end of Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 46, Lupe had tried to climb Steamboat Rock (5,081 ft.).

Back then, Lupe hadn’t succeeded in finding a way up to the summit, but she’d gotten close.  She’d approached from the N, and encountered cliffs just below the mountaintop.  The cliffs weren’t high, only 10-15 feet tall at that end of the mountain, but the sun was about to set.  There hadn’t been time to really look around for a safe way up.

Things were different now.  It was early in the day.  Lupe had time to search the entire circumference of the mountain, if necessary, to find a route up.

Lupe and SPHP set out from the Steamboat Rock picnic ground along Nemo Road.  Boxelder Creek flows between the picnic ground and Steamboat Rock to the N.  To get across the creek, Lupe followed Nemo Road E to USFS Road No. 147, where there was a bridge.

Lupe arrives at the Steamboat Rock picnic ground. Photo looks N at Steamboat Rock.
Lupe arrives at the Steamboat Rock picnic ground. Photo looks N at Steamboat Rock.

Once across Boxelder Creek, Lupe left USFS Road No. 147 by climbing up an embankment.  She then traveled NW toward Steamboat Rock.  Part of the time she was in the forest, and part of the time out on open ground just S of a big fenced field of privately owned land.

After crossing Box Elder Creek on USFS Road No. 147, Lupe headed NW toward Steamboat Rock.
After crossing Box Elder Creek on USFS Road No. 147, Lupe headed NW toward Steamboat Rock.

Lupe had to re-enter the forest to get around the SW end of the field.  She then turned N and started a gradual climb.  Lupe and SPHP headed for the SE end of the E side of the mountain.  The forest had suffered a fair amount of damage from mountain pine bark beetles, but it wasn’t too bad.  Most of the time it wasn’t hard to avoid the deadfall timber.

Steamboat Rock contains two bands of rock which are less easily eroded than the geologic formations between and below them, resulting in two bands of cliffs around the mountain.  Lupe needed to find a route up avoiding both.  It was clear Lupe couldn’t just go up the S end of the mountain, where the cliff walls were high and unbroken.  Lupe traveled N along the E side of Steamboat Rock, gaining elevation and looking for an opening.

By the time Lupe had climbed high enough to reach the base of the first set of cliffs, she was far enough N to see that just ahead was an area where the cliffs were reduced to an intermittent string of rock outcroppings.  The ground between the rock outcroppings was steep, but easily climbable.  Lupe and SPHP had no problem getting up above the first band of rocks.

Lupe reaches the base of the first set of cliffs. Just a short distance to the N, there were breaks in the cliff wall where it was easy to climb up above.
Lupe reaches the base of the first set of cliffs. Just a short distance to the N, there were breaks in the cliff wall where it was easy to climb up above.

Lupe started climbing up toward the second set of cliffs, a light-colored band of limestone positioned high on the mountain.  She continued angling up and toward the N.  When she got high enough to see the cliffs through the forest, the view was discouraging.  These cliffs were considerably higher than the ones below, and formed an unbroken wall.  The ground below them was very steep, not much of a problem for Lupe, but SPHP had to proceed slowly and carefully.

Lupe and SPHP didn’t have to go too much farther N before there was a glimmer of hope.  The cliff face was less regular, and there began to be some clefts in the rock.  Lupe came to a place where there was a fairly large opening.  SPHP couldn’t see the top of the opening, but it looked like it might be possible to climb up here.

SPHP started climbing, but soon realized that the ground was just too steep.  There were little patches of snow and ice in the shade of the mountain, enough to make this route slick and treacherous.  There were too few firmly anchored rocks to provide decent handholds and footholds.  SPHP went back down.  Lupe and SPHP continued N.

Just a little farther on, there was another break in the cliffs.  Some steep ground led up to a much smaller opening where it looked like Lupe and SPHP should be able to get up on top.  Lupe waited patiently as SPHP made a careful ascent.  Soon both Lupe and SPHP were up above the highest band of cliffs on Steamboat Rock!

Lupe below the highest band of cliffs on Steamboat Rock near where she was able to get up on top.
Lupe below the highest band of cliffs on Steamboat Rock near where she was able to get up on top.
Lupe up above the highest band of cliffs along the E edge of Steamboat Rock. Photo looks NE.
Lupe up above the highest band of cliffs along the E edge of Steamboat Rock. Photo looks NE.

SPHP wasn’t really sure what Lupe would find up on Steamboat Rock.  A glance to the W from where Lupe came up was very encouraging.  An unbroken gentle slope rose slightly toward the W.  The ground was almost flat.  A pine forest covered the top of the mountain, with little sunlit clearings scattered here and there.  Pine needles and patches of snow covered the forest floor.

Lupe and SPHP headed W through the forest.  A few minutes later, Lupe reached a strange structure crudely built out of rough wood.  It was about 30 feet long N/S, and maybe 15 to 20 feet wide E/W.  A gap in the 4 foot high walls near the NW end of the enclosure served as the only entrance.  There was no roof.  A sign indicated Lupe had arrived at “Pugg’s Keep”.  Trash, mostly empty beer cans and water bottles, was strewn all over the place.

Pugg’s Keep was perched quite close to the cliffs along the W side of Steamboat Rock.  Lupe went to check out the view.  Not too surprisingly, Pugg’s Keep was pretty close to the best view from Steamboat Rock.

Lupe along the W rim of Steamboat Rock. This view to the NW was judged to be the best from anywhere on the mountain by SPHP. Boxelder Creek can be seen in the large field far below.
Lupe along the W rim of Steamboat Rock. This view to the NW was judged to be the best from anywhere on the mountain by SPHP. Boxelder Creek can be seen in the large field far below.

Since Steamboat Rock slopes slightly down toward the E, the true summit had to be somewhere close to the cliffs along the W edge.  Lupe and SPHP explored S along the W rim almost all the way to the S end of the mountain.

Although the top of Steamboat Rock is forested, there were plenty of spots along the W rim where there were nice views from the SW around to the NW.  The forest was thicker, and provided fewer viewpoints along the E rim.

After her explorations to the S, Lupe headed back N along the W rim.  Lupe’s investigations had revealed that the true summit was a relatively small flat area, just a little way S of Pugg’s Keep.

Lupe near a splendid Ponderosa Pine at the true summit of Steamboat Rock. Lupe claimed her peakbagging success nearly 3 years after her first unsuccessful attempt to climb the mountain.
Lupe near a splendid Ponderosa Pine at the true summit of Steamboat Rock. Lupe claimed her peakbagging success nearly 3 years after her first unsuccessful attempt to climb the mountain.

Lupe returned to Pugg’s Keep for another sniff around.  Inside the enclosure was a rather nicely constructed fireplace made of loosely assembled limestone.  On the W side were a number of boards with writing on them, including the Pugg’s Keep sign.

People had painted their names or nicknames on various pieces of wood near the Pugg’s Keep sign.  Most of the dates weren’t from that long ago, just a few months back in the late summer or fall of 2015.  “Antman” on 8-30-15, Brit Holberry, Isaiah S. Shovel 9-7-15, Alex Lewis, Coletrain 9-5-15, McPat, Jim & Susan & Brit on 10-30-15, Caleb Stanley, and Beave S. R. were just some of the names.  Apparently Steamboat Rock was not always a lonely outpost.

In fact, Pugg’s Keep gave the impression of a sometimes rather lively party place.  Numerous empty beer cans, half a dozen water bottles, a giant empty bottle of New Amsterdam Vodka, a few coke cans and a plastic sports drink bottle were strewn around, along with other garbage.  At the S end of Pugg’s Keep was a tattered blue-gray quilt hanging from some trees.  It looked like a dilapidated hammock.  Beneath it was a decaying black garbage bag full of more cans, bottles, and trash.

The Pugg's Keep sign on Steamboat Rock.
The Pugg’s Keep sign on Steamboat Rock.
Lupe in Pugg's Keep. Photo looks S.
Lupe in Pugg’s Keep. Photo looks S.
Are "Antman" and Brit Holberry one and the same? Who knew?
Are “Antman” and Brit Holberry one and the same? Who knew?
The lovely Pugg's Keep hammock on Steamboat Rock. Sheesh, people!
The lovely Pugg’s Keep hammock on Steamboat Rock. Sheesh, people!

There were more fine furnishings at Pugg’s Keep, too.  An old portable grill just starting to rust was nestled in the W wall.  A couple of short ropes hung from a tree.  An assortment of pens was bungee corded to a tree.  Nearby, a First Aid kit was fastened to another tree.  Someone had written a crude message on the First Aid kit case implying that anyone who actually needed to use it was weak and worthy of despise.

Clearly the word “Keep” in Pugg’s Keep was used in the sense of a fortress.  The top of Steamboat Rock, nearly completely surrounded by cliffs, pretty effectively suited that meaning of the word.  “Keep” certainly didn’t have anything to do with housekeeping.  Pugg didn’t know diddly about housekeeping.

SPHP had 4 good plastic Safeway or Wal-Mart sacks.  While Lupe sniffed around, SPHP started filling them with trash.  An old red tote bag under the hammock was in good enough shape to carry some junk in, too.  SPHP collected close to 3 dozen beer cans, the giant Vodka bottle, at least half a dozen water bottles, and other assorted trash, stuffing it all into plastic bags or the old red tote bag.  One of the ropes hanging from a tree was used to tie together whatever wouldn’t go into SPHP’s backpack.

When the sacks and tote bag were full, there wasn’t much trash left around.  The hideous hammock was still there, the First Aid kit and pens, plus the old grill, but almost everything else was packed up ready to go.  Which way to go, though?  With so much junk to carry out, SPHP was now interested in getting it all back to the G6 as expeditiously as possible.

Lupe and SPHP left Pugg’s Keep to go check out the N end of Steamboat Rock.  Lupe hadn’t been there yet.  Maybe there was an easier way down?

The N end of the mountain turned out to be narrower and rockier than any other part.  The terrain was more broken up.  There were a couple of significant breaks in the cliff line where it might be possible to go down to the W, but it was hard to know for sure without actually going down and scouting out the possibilities.

Lupe on her explorations toward the N end of Steamboat Rock.
Lupe on her explorations toward the N end of Steamboat Rock.

Lupe toward the N end of Steamboat Rock, 1-23-16The very N end of Steamboat Rock was a narrow, discontinuous line of stone.  SPHP concluded it was probably best for Lupe to just leave Steamboat Rock the same way she had come up.  Before leaving, Lupe and SPHP returned one more time to Pugg’s Keep to retrieve SPHP’s backpack, and the big bundle of Lupe Treasures destined for recycling or the garbage truck.

Lupe back at Pugg's Keep near the big bundle of Lupe Treasures. This was one of Lupe's biggest single hauls, ever!
Lupe back at Pugg’s Keep near the big bundle of Lupe Treasures. This was one of Lupe’s biggest single hauls, ever!

Carting the bundle of Lupe Treasures down off Steamboat Rock didn’t do anything to enhance SPHP’s speed or agility, but the trip back down the steep E slopes of the mountain wasn’t as bad as SPHP expected.  Lupe certainly had plenty of time to sniff around!  A few times she found squirrels in the trees, providing happy moments of enthusiastic barking.

Lupe's route going down below the upper band of cliffs on the E side of Steamboat Rock. Photo looks S.
Lupe’s route going down below the upper band of cliffs on the E side of Steamboat Rock. Photo looks S.

Instead of carrying everything all the way back to the G6, SPHP left the Lupe Treasures by the side of USFS Road No. 147.  Lupe and SPHP returned with the car to stuff it all in the trunk.  There were even a few more Lupe Treasures to gather up alongside No. 147 to add to the collection.  The more the merrier, in a way, although it made SPHP pretty disgusted with the human race.  Well, not all of it, but a significant alcohol-soaked part of it for sure.

For no farther than it had been to Steamboat Rock, it had sure seemed to take a long time get there and explore it all.  Lupe and SPHP had reached the G6 again at 1:31 PM (55°F!).  There was still time to do something else on Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 153, but not as much time as SPHP had expected.  Before leaving the Steamboat Rock area, Lupe and SPHP drove N along USFS Road No. 147 a half mile or more for a parting view from another perspective.

Steamboat Rock from the SE along USFS Road No. 147.
Steamboat Rock from the SE along USFS Road No. 147.
The high cliffs at the SE end of Steamboat Rock. (Taken with the telephoto lens.)
The high cliffs at the SE end of Steamboat Rock. (Taken with the telephoto lens.)

After a couple photos of Steamboat Rock from the SE, Lupe and SPHP returned to Nemo Road and headed NW toward Nemo.  Lupe stopped again along the highway for a look back at Steamboat Rock from the W.

Steamboat Rock from the W along Nemo Road.
Steamboat Rock from the W along Nemo Road.

Steamboat Rock from the W along Nemo Road, 1-23-16Lupe and SPHP continued driving NW to Nemo and beyond.  SPHP actually had another couple of peakbagging goals in mind for Lupe, although it was looking like there was probably only time enough for one of them now.  SPHP wound up wasting more time looking for the best starting point, but eventually (2:26 PM, 51°F) parked the G6 near the start of USFS Road No. 414.6K just N of Nemo Road, about 2 miles N of Nemo.

No. 414.6K was snowy and partially snow-packed by vehicle tracks.  It headed N for about a mile toward Lupe’s next two possible peakbagging goals, Green Top (5,360 ft.) and White Mansion (5,340 ft.).  Just S of Green Top, No. 414.6K came to an intersection.  By now SPHP had decided Lupe should go for Green Top instead of White Mansion.

Lupe and SPHP turned W (L) at the intersection.  A sign said Lupe was still on USFS Road No. 414.6K.  No. 414.6K gradually curved to the NW slowly gaining elevation as it proceeded up Green Draw.  There were no vehicle tracks at all in the snow here, just a few animal tracks.  Lupe liked this part of the woods.  She was hearing things in the forest.  Lupe sprinted off in various directions, racing back again every few minutes to check on SPHP’s progress.

Lupe races back along USFS Road No. 414.6K looking for SPHP. This quiet, private section of road W of Green Top seemed remote and beautiful on a winter afternoon.
Lupe races back along USFS Road No. 414.6K looking for SPHP. This quiet, private section of road W of Green Top seemed remote and beautiful on a winter afternoon.

Somewhere W of Green Top, Lupe and SPHP left No. 414.6K to start climbing NE through the forest.  There were big boulders and occasional rock outcroppings along the way.  The same geological rock formations present at Steamboat Rock were also present here.  It was quite possible Lupe would have to find a way up over two bands of cliffs again to reach the summit of Green Top.  It wasn’t at all certain Lupe would find a route to the top.

Lupe’s final approach up Green Top was from the NW.  Fortunately, the rock outcroppings did not form continuous cliffs along in here.  Lupe had no problem going up the mountain, but it was impossible to see how much farther Lupe had to go.  Green Top was thickly forested.  The young trees were tall, thin and densely packed.

Unlike Steamboat Rock, there wasn’t much left of the original limestone cap up at the top of Green Top Mountain.  A narrow ridge ran NW/SE.  A rocky little scramble up a short slope brought Lupe to the NW end of the summit ridge.

The views were really great!  Snowy Custer Peak (6,804 ft.) off to the WNW was the feature attraction, but Terry Peak (7,064 ft.) and a wide swath of the central Black Hills was all on display, too.

The remnant rocks of the limestone cap at the NW end of the summit ridge on Green Top. Photo looks S.
The remnant rocks of the limestone cap at the NW end of the summit ridge on Green Top. Photo looks S.
Lupe up on the NW end of the Green Top summit ridge. Photo looks WNW toward Custer Peak. Terry Peak is also visible toward the R.
Lupe up on the NW end of the Green Top summit ridge. Photo looks WNW toward Custer Peak. Terry Peak is also visible toward the R.
Custer Peak from Green Top using the telephoto lens.
Custer Peak from Green Top using the telephoto lens.
Lupe still at the NW end of the Green Top summit ridge. Photo looks S.
Lupe still at the NW end of the Green Top summit ridge. Photo looks S.

Looking SE along the summit ridge, it appeared likely that Lupe wasn’t quite at the true summit of Green Top yet.  The broken ridge was mostly hidden by forest.  It still wasn’t clear if Lupe would succeed in reaching the actual summit.

Looking SE along the summit ridge of Green Top. It looked like there was higher ground in that direction, but the ridge was rather broken up. Would Lupe be able to reach the true summit?
Looking SE along the summit ridge of Green Top. It looked like there was higher ground in that direction, but the ridge was rather broken up. Would Lupe be able to reach the true summit?

Lupe and SPHP worked their way SE along the ridge, staying on the NE side.  To the SW were cliffs – not high cliffs, but still cliffs.  It wasn’t far to a platform of rock slightly higher than the rest of the ridge.  Fortunately, there was a way to climb up on top with little trouble or risk.  This platform was the true summit of Green Top!  Lupe had arrived!

Lupe on the true summit of Green Top. White Mansion is the line of limestone cliffs seen to the NE.
Lupe on the true summit of Green Top. White Mansion is the line of limestone cliffs seen to the NE.

The entire slightly elevated summit area was only the size of a large room in a house.  The best views were from the SSE around to the SW.  By now it was maybe just 45 minutes until sunset.  Green Top was going to be Lupe’s last peakbagging success of Expedition No. 153.

Lupe and SPHP sat together enjoying the view.  SPHP petted and talked to Lupe.  It was all very deep and profound stuff.  Lupe listened carefully.  She understood it all.  In fact, she already knew it.  SPHP ate an orange.  Lupe wasn’t hungry, even though she hadn’t eaten all day.

The time to go always comes too quickly.  Lupe and SPHP left the summit of Green Top, returning to the NW end of the ridge.  There, after one last look toward Custer Peak, Lupe and SPHP started down the mountain.  This time Lupe stayed farther E than she had been coming up.  She lost plenty of elevation going down through the thick forest of spindly pines.  She passed by lots of purple-gray boulders and rock outcroppings.

The rocks and dense forest ended as Lupe approached the saddle NW of Green Top.   From the saddle, Lupe and SPHP headed ENE through a snowy field of tall grass and widely scattered pines to reach USFS Road No. 155.1A.  To the NW, No. 155.1A went up Wilson Gulch, but Lupe and SPHP followed the road S between Green Top and White Mansion.

Cows were mooing at a very secluded ranch NW of White Mansion.  No. 155.1A was very snowy.  There were deep ruts in the snow where some jeep or high clearance vehicle had spun its way through.  E of Green Top, Lupe and SPHP didn’t see the sunset.  The temperature dropped as SPHP trudged S through the snow.  Two big, erect American Dingo ears, and an arching curly tail led the way.

The cows left behind, the only sound was the soft crunch of Dingo paws on the now hardening snow.  Before Lupe reached the intersection with USFS Road No. 414.6K, she heard them.  It was that moment of twilight when the branches of the trees are an impenetrable black against the palest blue sky.  The wild dogs of the forest, the coyotes, were howling.

For just a few minutes, the coyotes howled to one another.  For just a few minutes, Lupe listened attentively to the call of the wild.  Then she and SPHP crunched on in silence along the snowy road (5:23 PM, 35°).

Looking SSE from Green Top. The big field Lupe had seen from Steamboat Rock is visible on the R. Beyond the field, also on the R is Green Mountain (5,240 ft.).
Looking SSE from Green Top. The big field Lupe had seen from Steamboat Rock is visible on the R. Beyond the field, also on the R, is Green Mountain (5,240 ft.).

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Green River Lakes, Squaretop Mountain & The Highline Trail to Beaver Park, Wind River Range, WY (8-30-15)

Near the end of Lupe’s great Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation, SPHP had to cut out of the plan some really terrific adventures.  There just wasn’t time enough left for Lupe to do them all.  The last of Lupe’s adventures she would actually get to complete would be in the fabulous Wind River Range of Wyoming.  The first of these adventures was for Lupe to travel the Highline Trail from Green River Lakes to Beaver Park near Squaretop Mountain.

After arriving at Lower Green River Lake the previous evening, Lupe started Day 22 of her 2015 Dingo Vacation ready to hit the Highline Trail.  She set out at 7:41 AM (52°F) under partly cloudy skies.  Lupe reached the Highline Trail by crossing a bridge over the Green River just downstream of where it leaves the lake.

Lupe on her way to the bridge crossing the Green River near the start of the Highline Trail.
Lupe on her way to the Highline Trail via this bridge over the Green River.

Once Lupe was across the bridge, the Highline Trail took her SSE paralleling the NE shore of Lower Green River Lake.  The trail stays well above the lakeshore for the entire 2 miles or so it takes to get to the far end of Lower Green River Lake.   The area along the trail is only sparsely forested, so there is a splendid view of Lower Green River Lake with Squaretop Mountain (11,695 ft.) looming in the distance almost the entire way.  The scene is one of SPHP’s very favorite mountain scenes anywhere.

Lupe near Lower Green River Lake. Squaretop Mountain is in the distance.
Lupe near Lower Green River Lake. Squaretop Mountain is in the distance.

Lower Green River Lake & Squaretop Mountain, WY 8-30-15Squaretop Mountain & Lower Green River Lake, WY 8-30-15

Lupe on the Highline Trail. The mountain on the left is White Rock.
Lupe on the Highline Trail. The mountain on the left is White Rock (11,284 ft.).

When Lupe got near the S end of Lower Green River Lake, the trail began to head down closer to lake level.  The bushes at the S end of the lake were already showing some fall colors.  Lupe crossed a bridge over Clear Creek coming down from Clear Lake to the E.  A couple of miles up the Clear Creek Trail there is a natural bridge where Clear Creek flows through a big hole in a mountain.  Lupe didn’t get to go there.  She continued on the Highline Trail on the way to Upper Green River Lake.

Approaching the S shore of Lower Green River Lake. The lower lake is the larger of the two Green River Lakes.
Approaching the S shore of Lower Green River Lake. The lower lake is the larger of the two Green River Lakes.  There is really little elevation difference between the upper and lower lakes.  The upper lake is at 7,968 feet, while the lower lake is at 7,961 feet.
Bushes beyond the S shore of Lower Green River Lake were already starting to exhibit some fall colors.
Bushes beyond the S shore of Lower Green River Lake were already starting to exhibit some fall colors.
Clear Creek flows down from the E to join the Green River between the Green River Lakes.
Clear Creek flows down from the E to join the Green River between the two Green River Lakes.  This photo was taken from the bridge across it along the Highline Trail.

The two Green River Lakes are less than a mile apart.  The area in between is flat.  Quite a bit of it is covered with bushes and tall grass.  A bridge crosses the Green River between the lakes.  Beyond the bridge on the W side of the valley are two trails.  One heads around the W shore of Lower Green River Lake, so that it is possible to make a complete loop around the lake.  The other heads SSW along the Porcupine Trail up to Porcupine Pass.

Lupe strikes an odd pose along the Green River between the upper and lower Green River Lakes.
Lupe strikes an odd pose along the Green River between the upper and lower Green River Lakes.  Is she scowling?  Tired of posing for photos already?

Lupe stayed on the E side of the river following the Highline Trail to Upper Green River Lake.  If anything, the view of Squaretop Mountain beyond the upper Green River Lake was even better than the one from the lower lake.  Lupe agreed not to look so stiff or scowl at the Upper Green River Lake.

Squaretop Mountain and Upper Green River Lake.
Squaretop Mountain and Upper Green River Lake.
Lupe goes wading in Upper Green River Lake.
Lupe goes wading in Upper Green River Lake.

Lupe at Upper Green River Lake, WY 8-30-15

Squaretop Mountain from Upper Green River Lake. The upper lake is only about 1 mile long and 0.25 mile wide, half the dimensions of the lower lake. The surface area is only 1/4 of the size of the lower lake.
Squaretop Mountain from Upper Green River Lake. The upper lake is only about 1 mile long and 0.25 mile wide, half the dimensions of the lower lake. The surface area is only 1/4 of the size of the lower lake.

The Highline Trail passes to the E of Upper Green River Lake.  It goes up and down well above the lake through a much denser forest than exists along the NE side of the lower lake.  There were fewer viewpoints along the way, but there were a few.

Lupe E of Upper Green River Lake. Photo looks SW.
Lupe E of Upper Green River Lake. Photo looks SW.
Squaretop Mountain and a view toward the S shore of the Upper Green River Lake from the Highline Trail.
Squaretop Mountain and a view toward the S shore of the Upper Green River Lake from the Highline Trail.

Squaretop Mountain lies 3 or 4 miles beyond the S shore of Upper Green River Lake.  The Highline Trail follows the Green River valley upstream passing to the E of Squaretop Mountain.  Sometimes the trail is close to the river, other times it is away from it up in the forest.  Although the trail goes up and down, there is little net elevation gain.  The views of Squaretop were more and more impressive as Lupe got closer.

Approaching Squaretop Mountain from the N. The Green River is shown here upstream of both Green River Lakes.
Approaching Squaretop Mountain from the N. The Green River is shown here upstream of both Green River Lakes.

Green River & Squaretop Mountain, WY 8-30-15Lupe and Squaretop Mountain, WY 8-30-15

SPHP has an old book called Wind River Trails.  It is the 3rd edition printed in 1979.  The book was written by Finis Mitchell, who moved with his parents in a mule-drawn wagon from Missouri to Wyoming in 1906, arriving at the Wind River Range on April 26th.  Finis Mitchell spent much of his life in the Winds.  Eventually he ran a fishing camp with his wife.  Although only 5 lakes in the Wind River Range had fish naturally, Finis Mitchell used milk cans and horses to pack in 2.5 million little trout and stock 314 lakes.

In Wind River Trails, Finis Mitchell describes a route up Squaretop Mountain from the E.  The route is supposed to be relatively easy.  Finis talks about taking a child as young as 4 years old up Squaretop (the child had to be handed up over a lot of ledges), and Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops making the trip.  The route up leaves the Highline Trail at Beaver Park, about 5 miles S of Upper Green River Lakes.

Looking at Squaretop Mountain, SPHP got the feeling maybe a guy who spent his entire life in these mountains might have a different view of what was easy.  Maybe things would look different from Beaver Park.  If children could do it, certainly an American Dingo could.  There wouldn’t be time for it, though.  For Lupe and SPHP this was just a scouting trip.

Getting closer!
Getting closer!

Squaretop Mountain and the Green River, WY 8-30-15

Looking at some of the mountains W of the Green River before reaching Squaretop Mountain.
Looking at some of the mountains W of the Green River before reaching Squaretop Mountain.

Green River, Wind River Range, WY 8-30-15On a section of the Highline Trail passing through the forest, SPHP saw some rapids on the Green River down below.  There were some nice rocks and rock ledges along the bank of the river, so Lupe and SPHP went down to investigate.  The river had the beautiful color of rivers carrying glacial silt.  The rapids were very pretty.  There was a particularly handsome boulder out in the stream.

The handsome boulder at the rapids in the Green River near Squaretop Mountain.
The handsome boulder at the rapids in the Green River near Squaretop Mountain.
Lupe and the handsome boulder.
Lupe and the handsome boulder.

The Green River, Wind River Range, WY 8-30-15When Lupe ran down to the rapids, she waded in the stream to get a drink of water.  She climbed right out again just fine, but SPHP saw that her right rear paw was all bloody!  It took some persuading to get Lupe to lay down and let SPHP take a look.  It must have hurt, because Lupe didn’t want SPHP touching that paw.  SPHP had to be very gentle.

Her right rear dewclaw must have gotten caught on something.  Part of it had snapped off, and SPHP could see that it had been bleeding.  Nothing else looked injured, and the dewclaw did not look torn from the rest of her paw.  SPHP washed the blood off Lupe’s paw.  She licked it for a while.  After about 10 minutes she seemed to feel better about it.  She was ready to get up.

Lupe posed for some pictures along the beautiful Green River.  She waded a little bit in the cold water, which probably made her dewclaw feel better.  By the time Lupe left the rapids to return to the Highline Trail, she seemed to have already forgotten all about the injured dewclaw.

The American Dingo with a broken dewclaw bravely poses for pictures along the gorgeous Green River.
The American Dingo with a broken dewclaw bravely poses for pictures along the gorgeous Green River.

Lupe at the Green River, Wind River Range, WY 8-30-15Lupe at the Green River, Wind River Range, WY 8-30-15Green River, Wind River Range, WY 8-30-15Green River, Wind River Range, WY 8-30-15Green River, Wind River Range, WY 8-30-15Green River, Wind River Range, WY 8-30-15Beyond the rapids, the Highline Trail continued S passing to the E of Squaretop Mountain.  Lupe was starting to get close to Beaver Park.  She was looking for a footbridge across the Green River.  At the footbridge she would cross over to reach the upper end of Beaver Park.

Squaretop Mountain looms more than 3,000 feet above the Highline Trail.
Squaretop Mountain looms more than 3,000 feet above the Highline Trail.
A look at mountains to the SW upstream past Squaretop Mountain.
A look at mountains to the SW upstream past Squaretop Mountain.

Wind River Mountains from Green River, WY 8-30-15

A look back to the NW at Granite Mountain. Granite Mountain is just E of Squaretop Mountain, which was to the left of this photo.
A look back to the NW at Granite Peak (9,892 ft.). Granite Peak is just E of Squaretop Mountain, which was to the left of this photo.
Lupe reaches the footbridge across the Green River to the upper end of Beaver Park.
Lupe reaches the footbridge across the Green River to the upper end of Beaver Park.

Footbridge to Beaver Park, Wind River Range, WY 8-30-15

Looking upstream (S) along the Green River from the bridge to Beaver Park.
Looking upstream (S) along the Green River from the bridge to Beaver Park.

When Lupe reached Beaver Park, she went out into the big field to take a look around.  It was certainly a beautiful spot.  SPHP saw no easy way up Squaretop Mountain from down in Beaver Park.  The first part of Finis Mitchell’s route required a climb of 1,000 feet from Beaver Park up to Granite Lake just SW of Granite Peak.

Lupe reaches Beaver Park in the Wind River Range. Granite Peak is on the left. Photo looks N.
Lupe reaches Beaver Park in the Wind River Range. Granite Peak is on the left. Photo looks N.
Beaver Park.
Beaver Park.

It would probably have been possible to get a much better look at the route up the ledges to Squaretop Mountain that Finis Mitchell talked about in Wind River Trails from Granite Lake.  Earlier in the day going to Granite Lake had seemed like a great idea, but by now the 1,000 foot climb seemed like too much work.

Besides, the American Dingo had an injured dewclaw!  It was probably best not to overdo it.  Never mind that the Dingo seemed to have forgotten all about it.  The trek to Beaver Park along the Highline Trail had been a pleasant one, with lots of fabulous scenery and without a ton of elevation gain or loss.  Why not just enjoy the day?  Lupe still had to go all the way back to the G6.

Lupe and SPHP went over to the Green River again and took a break.  Lupe had Taste of the Wild and water.  She relaxed on the bank above the river and grew a bit sleepy.  SPHP looked at maps.  There were dramatic high cliffs on the mountain on the other side of the river.  After a little while, the sky seemed to cloud up more.  The day grew darker.

Lupe kind of dozes along the bank of the Green River near the upper end of Beaver Park.
Lupe kind of dozes along the bank of the Green River near the upper end of Beaver Park.

Lupe at Green River, Wind River Range, WY 8-30-15Lupe at Green River, Wind River Range, WY 8-30-15

High cliffs E of Beaver Park and the Green River.
High cliffs E of Beaver Park and the Green River.
Green River near Beaver Park. The sky started clouding up.
Green River near Beaver Park. The sky started clouding up.

Lupe had explored only a short segment of the Highline Trail coming to Beaver Park from Green River Lakes.  Backpackers doing the most popular through hike from Green River Lakes to Big Sandy reported estimated trip lengths of 7 to 9 days.  The entire trail is over 100 miles long, although portions beyond Green River Lakes and Big Sandy at either end are seldom used.

Lupe was only here for a day hike, though.  Beaver Park was about as far as Lupe and SPHP could go and still return in a day.  When it started to rain with tiny hailstones, Lupe and SPHP took refuge under tall pines near the Highline Trail.  It was time to think about heading back.  About the time the rain stopped, a forest ranger came along the trail from farther upstream.  This was an amazing thing in itself!

In all her many explorations and adventures, Lupe had never seen a forest ranger away from the pavement before.  This forest ranger was actually out in the forest, and doing what one thinks of as forest ranging.  SPHP talked to him.  His name was Chad.  Chad was quite friendly and full of information about the Wind River Range.  This was his 3rd year working in the Winds.

Chad said the Finis Mitchell route up Squaretop was rather hard to find, since some of the landmarks (like burnt areas in the forest) which Finis Mitchell used to describe the route had changed since Wind River Trails was written.  SPHP had been wondering if there wasn’t another easier route via the Porcupine Trail.  Chad confirmed that there was.  It was longer, though.  Chad had been up on Squaretop Mountain and knew what he was talking about.

After a fun chat with Chad, he needed to be moving along.  He was on his way up into high country near the Golden Lakes, and from there clear up to the glaciers beyond, to check on wildlife, hunters and climbers.  He would remain on the Highline Trail for a little while longer before looking for a place where he could leave the trail and climb up to Golden Lakes.

Lupe and SPHP followed Chad along the Highline Trail.  Despite carrying a huge, heavy pack, Chad was faster than SPHP.  Lupe and SPHP did catch up to him again several times when he stopped to chat to people along the trail.  The last time Lupe and SPHP reached him, he had stopped to have a sandwich before leaving the trail.  Chad very kindly gave Lupe some of his cheese sandwich.  (Dingoes love cheese!)

Lupe starts back across the bridge over the Green River leaving Beaver Park.
Lupe starts back across the bridge over the Green River leaving Beaver Park.
Looking back at Squaretop Mountain. Granite Peak is the comparatively small hill on the L.
Looking back at Squaretop Mountain. Granite Peak is the comparatively small forested hill in the sunlight on the L.
Lupe gets a bite of Chad's cheese sandwich at their last meeting. Chad was a real forest ranger - he actually spends his time in the mountains instead of at a desk.
Lupe gets a bite of Chad’s cheese sandwich at their last meeting. Chad was a real forest ranger – he actually spends his time patrolling in the mountains instead of sitting at a desk.  Chad was the first forest ranger Lupe ever saw actually patrolling in a forest.  He was a terrific, knowledgeable guy and in great shape, too.

On the way back, Lupe stayed on the Highline Trail until she was between the two Green River Lakes.  There she crossed the bridge over to the W side of the Green River.  Lupe headed for the intersection of the Porcupine Trail and Lakeside Trail.  To complete a loop around Lower Green River Lake, Lupe took the Lakeside Trail heading NNW near the W shore.

The Lakeside Trail was in forest much of the way.  There were only a few spots with open views from the trail on this side of the lake.  Most of the time, the Lakeside Trail stayed well above the shore.

An early evening view of Squaretop Mountain from Upper Green River Lake.
An early evening view of Squaretop Mountain from Upper Green River Lake.
The mountain NE of Lower Green River Lake from the Lakeside Trail. Photo looks NE.
The mountain NE of Lower Green River Lake from the Lakeside Trail. Photo looks NE.
Flat Top Mountain from the Lakeside Trail along Lower Green River Lake. Photo looks E.
Flat Top Mountain (11,823 ft.) from the Lakeside Trail along Lower Green River Lake. Photo looks E.
White Rock from the Lakeside Trail along Lower Green River Lake. White Rock is the mountain just E of Upper Green River Lake. Photo looks SSE.
White Rock from the Lakeside Trail along Lower Green River Lake. White Rock is the mountain just E of Upper Green River Lake. Photo looks SE.

It was 7:52 PM (66°F) when Lupe reached the G6 again.  After a glorious day along the Highline Trail to Beaver Park and back, she was ready for a whole can of Alpo before curling up with her blankie.  Maybe someday she will return to explore further along the Highline Trail, or take the Porcupine Trail and find the way up Squaretop Mountain.

What was for certain was that her final big adventure of her great Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation would start the next day.  It would also take place in the Wind River Range of Wyoming.

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Going to the Winds – Green River Lakes & Squaretop Mountain, WY (8-29-15)

After successfully climbing Wyoming Peak (11,378 ft.) the prior day, Day 21 of Lupe’s great Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation was destined to be a bumpy one.  SPHP was determined NOT to take the same La Barge Creek Road (No. 315) out of the Wyoming Range that Lupe had taken into it.  There was no sense putting the G6 through that again.  SPHP checked the maps.  Heading for Big Piney looked like the shortest way out of the Wyoming Range.  Big Piney was also the closest to Lupe’s next destination – the fabulous Wind River Range.

Before 7:00 AM, Lupe and SPHP left the Wyoming Peak area driving S on Greys River road.  Lupe was very interested in a herd of 8 pronghorn antelope grazing in a valley.  More antelope could be seen up at the edge of the forest.  It was a gorgeous morning in the Wyoming Range.  A bit farther S, at a sign about the history of La Barge Meadow, SPHP stopped the G6 for a few minutes to let Lupe out to take a sniff of the morning air.History of La Barge Meadow, WY 8-29-15

Lupe visits La Barge Meadow in the Wyoming Range for a quick sniff of the cool morning air.
Lupe visits La Barge Meadow in the Wyoming Range for a quick sniff of the cool morning air.  Photo looks N.

Lupe and SPHP continued S from La Barge Meadow.  SPHP turned E on USFS Road No. 10128 where there was a sign indicating this road went to Big Piney.  No. 10128 was a good gravel road for a long way.  It went through some beautiful territory as it took Lupe down out of the Wyoming Range.  Part of the route was not so pretty, there were 5 miles of burnt forest along the way, too.

SPHP had hoped the experience with very rough dirt roads coming up La Barge Creek would not have to be repeated.  However, as Lupe continued E out of the Wyoming Range, as soon as the road left the Bridger National Forest to cross private land, it deteriorated significantly.  It wasn’t as bad as the 3 miles of crummy road coming up La Barge Creek, but made up for it by being twice as long – 6 miles of rocks, potholes, and big dips.

The road finally improved.  Lupe reached pavement on Hwy 350 about 10 miles W of Big Piney.  Two hours of bumping along on gravel and dirt roads finally came to an end, but there would be plenty more later in the day.  At Big Piney,  SPHP turned N on Hwy 189.  N of Big Piney there was a sign commemorating the Green River Rendezvous held annually from 1824 to 1840.  SPHP stopped to take a look.

This sign about the Green River Rendezvous held annually by fur traders from 1824 to 1840 was Just E of Hwy 189 N of Big Piney.
This sign about the Green River Rendezvous held annually by trappers and fur traders from 1824 to 1840 was Just E of Hwy 189 N of Big Piney.

The Green River was not in sight where the sign was, but there was a wooded area beyond the sign with a couple of dirt roads going back into it.  SPHP thought the dirt roads might lead to the river, so Lupe and SPHP took a walk back into the woods.  Pretty soon SPHP realized there were homes ahead.  Without ever finding the Green River, Lupe and SPHP went back to the G6.

At Pinedale, WY, Lupe and SPHP had a picnic at a city park on Pine Creek.  After the picnic, Lupe went wading in Pine Creek.  SPHP sat on a rock with feet dangling in the cool, clear water.  It felt really good.  Lupe curled up for a little nap in the tall grass along the shore.

The town of Pinedale lies just S of the heart of the Wind River range, which stretches over 100 miles in a NW/SE direction.  Gannet Peak, the highest mountain in Wyoming at 13,804 feet is in the Winds.  Of the 20 highest peaks in Wyoming, 19 are located in the Wind River range.  The single exception is the famous Grand Teton in the Teton range.

Lupe and SPHP left the city park to go see a few of the sights near Pinedale.  Lupe stopped by Half Moon Lake, one of a number of large lakes on the S side of the Wind River range left after the retreat of glaciers.  After wading in Pine Creek, Lupe didn’t seem inclined to go wading in Half Moon Lake, so Lupe and SPHP left to go check out the Fremont Lake campground.

Half Moon Lake near Pinedale, WY
Half Moon Lake near Pinedale, WY

The Fremont Lake campground was closed “until further notice”.  The gate was padlocked shut.  SPHP decided to take Lupe up Skyline Drive to Elkhart Park.  Lupe had been there once before near the end of her very first big Dingo Vacation in 2012.  Along Skyline Drive there are great views of Fremont Lake from high above.  Near the end of the road is a panoramic view of the highest and most rugged peaks of the central Wind River range.  At Elkhart Park are trails leading into the wilderness.

The road to Elkhart Park was blocked due to road construction.  A semi-truck carrying huge metal drainage pipes was being unloaded.  It looked like a long wait.  Another adventure got crossed off Lupe’s to do list.  She wasn’t going to wait around.

So Lupe and SPHP went back to Pinedale.  After a few errands there, Lupe headed W out of town on Hwy 191.  At Hwy 352, SPHP turned N.  Lupe was going to get a tour of the scenic Green River valley all the way to Green River Lakes at the NW end of the Wind River Range.  The paved road turned to gravel when it entered the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

Lupe near the Green River shortly after it flows out of the Wind River range.
Lupe near the Green River shortly after it flows out of the Wind River range.

Green River, WY 8-29-15

The Green River starts high in the Wind River range. It flows out the NW end of the range and turns S to start its long journey to join the Colorado River.
The Green River starts high in the Wind River range. It flows out the NW end of the range and turns S to start its long journey to join the Colorado River.
Lupe had already seen the Green River much farther from its source on her 2015 Dingo Vacation. She crossed it near Dinosaur National Monument soon after entering Utah. She saw it again along the Little Hole Trail in Flaming Gorge.
Lupe had already seen the Green River much farther from its source on her 2015 Dingo Vacation. She crossed it near Dinosaur National Monument soon after entering Utah. She saw it again along the Little Hole Trail in Flaming Gorge.

The gravel road following the Green River into the Wind River range was long and very washboardy.  SPHP drove very slowly so the poor G6 wouldn’t end up just a bucket of bolts.  Huge pickup trucks, vans and SUV’s raced on by stirring up big clouds of dust.  The drive was gorgeous.  Slowly the Green River and road both curved around to the NE and then E.   When the river turned SE, SPHP knew Lupe was nearing her destination.

Finally, the mighty watchtower of the NW Wind River range, Squaretop Mountain (11,695 ft.), came into view.

Squaretop Mountain at the NW end of the Wind River range in Wyoming. Photo looks SE.
Squaretop Mountain at the NW end of the Wind River range in Wyoming. Photo looks SSE.

The washboardy road ended at Lower Green River Lake, the largest of two big lakes the Green River flows through as it leaves the Winds.  Lupe and SPHP left the G6 to go down to the beach.  The views of Squaretop Mountain looming beyond the Green River Lakes are among SPHP’s favorite mountain scenes anywhere.

Lower Green River Lake and Squaretop Mountain.
Lower Green River Lake and Squaretop Mountain.
Lupe hits the beach at Lower Green River Lake.
Lupe hits the beach at Lower Green River Lake.

Lupe at Lower Green River Lake, WY 8-29-15

Lost Eagle Peak (L), White Rock (Center), Squaretop Mountain (R) from Lower Green River Lake.
Lost Eagle Peak (11,838 ft.) (L), White Rock (11,284 ft.) (Center), and Squaretop Mountain (R) from Lower Green River Lake.

SPHP waded in the lake near the N shore.  The sand was coarse and loose.  Lupe didn’t want to get wet.  She played on the beach and explored the nearby vegetation.  SPHP threw a few sticks for her to chase, and played tug-of-war with her when she brought them back.  The American Dingo won every time in the end, but SPHP didn’t let it be too easy.

Lupe playing on the beach.
Lupe playing on the beach.

It was evening.  The sun was about to go down behind the mountains.  The long day bumping along so many gravel and dirt roads was ending.  Even the feisty Carolina Dog was getting a bit tired.  To the gentle sound of little waves lapping up against the lakeshore, Lupe laid down and went to sleep.Lupe asleep on the beach at Green River Lake, WY 8-29-15

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Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 152 – Perrin Mountain, Merritt Peak & Pilot Knob (1-13-16)

A forecast high near 50°F in the Black Hills was only supposed to last one day before colder temperatures returned.  Lupe and SPHP were going to make good use of the opportunity.  Lupe realized what was up.  She followed SPHP around impatiently, urging action at the soonest possible moment.  Lupe couldn’t wait for her next Black Hills, SD Expedition to begin!

At 8:47 AM (35°F), SPHP parked the G6 just off Hwy 44W about 1/8 mile SE of USFS Road No. 167 (the road to Placerville Camp).  Lupe and SPHP marched along a fence line outside of a big open field to get to No. 167.  When Lupe reached the road, she made a sad discovery.

A small deer was laying dead and frozen on the ice over Deer Creek.  Its hind quarters were badly damaged.  Perhaps the poor deer had been hit by a car on Hwy 44, and had managed to drag itself only this far before succumbing to the traumatic injury.

Lupe ready to start Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 152. She would climb the hill in the background on the way to Perrin Mountain. This hill was the first of two high points she reached along the way. Photo looks SW.
Lupe ready to start Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 152. She would climb the hill in the background on the way to Perrin Mountain. This hill was the first of two high points she reached along the way. Photo looks SW.
Lupe found this poor frozen dead deer laying on iced-over Deer Creek.
Lupe found this poor frozen dead deer laying on iced-over Deer Creek.

Lupe’s first peakbagging goal of the day was Perrin Mountain (5,212 ft.).  Although SPHP originally had another route in mind, it looked pretty easy and enticing to just start up the N ridge.

Lupe on the N ridge on her way to Perrin Mountain. Here she is about to climb up to the first of two high points along the way. Photo looks S.
Lupe on the N ridge on her way to Perrin Mountain. Here she is about to climb up to the first of two high points along the way. Photo looks S.

There were a couple of high points along the easiest route up to Perrin Mountain from the N.  The topo map showed a NW/SE running ridge at the first one, with the highest point at the NW end.  When Lupe got up there, it looked like just another spot in the forest.  There were a few rocks about a foot high around, but that was about it.

Peering SE through the forest, though, it looked like there might be something more interesting over there.  Lupe and SPHP followed the short ridge to its SE end, where there was a large blocky rock formation.  In fact, the rock formation at the SE end of the ridge is almost certainly a little higher than the map’s supposed highest point to the NW.  Lupe and SPHP explored around to the SE end of the rocks, by going around the N side.

Lupe reaches the interesting rock formation at the SE end of the ridge at the first high point on her way to Perrin Mountain. Photo looks E.
Lupe reaches the interesting rock formation at the SE end of the ridge at the first high point on her way to Perrin Mountain. Photo looks E.
Lupe at the SE end of the first high point ridge. Photo looks S at Perrin Mountain, her first peakbagging goal of the day.
Lupe at the SE end of the first high point ridge. Photo looks S at Perrin Mountain, her first peakbagging goal of the day.

The second high point on the way to Perrin Mountain was about 0.25 mile SW of the first one.  There were some interesting rock formations on the way to the second high point, but nothing too spectacular at the top.

Lupe at the top of the second high point on the way to Perrin Mountain. The rocks here weren't nearly as impressive as at the SE end of the ridge at the first high point.
Lupe at the top of the second high point on the way to Perrin Mountain. The rocks here weren’t nearly as impressive as at the SE end of the ridge at the first high point.

Lupe went a little farther SW from the second high point, losing some elevation.  Shortly after she started climbing up to the main Perrin Mountain ridge, she came to a snowy little road.  It headed SE toward the summit, but didn’t go all the way there.  At the end of the road, Lupe and SPHP were surprised to see a Subaru.  Someone was inside it, too.  Whoever it was, had car camped overnight.

That really was pretty extraordinary.  In all of Lupe’s Black Hills, SD Expeditions, this was the first time she had come to anyone camped anywhere outside of a designated campground in the national forest.  Since the person didn’t seem to be entirely up yet, Lupe and SPHP didn’t stop to chat, even though it would have been interesting to know more about the hardy soul who chose to car camp in January.

SPHP was surprised when Lupe found a trail leading from the end of the road to the top of Perrin Mountain.  The faint trail looked like it didn’t get much use these days, but wasn’t hard to follow.  The trail went all the way up to the summit.  Actually, it went to a sign nailed to a tree just SE of the summit.  The sign had the cryptic message “Hurt Locker”.  If Lupe knew what the sign meant, she wasn’t saying.  SPHP could divine no relevant meaning, since there was no locker of any sort in sight.

Hurt Locker? Would have made more sense if a locker had been evident somewhere, but Lupe and SPHP found none.
Hurt Locker? Would have made more sense if a locker had been evident somewhere, but Lupe and SPHP found none.

The summit of Perrin Mountain was maybe 25 feet NW of the odd Hurt Locker sign.  There were a few rocks a couple of feet high there, but nothing more dramatic than that.  The forest blocked the view in every direction.

Lupe on the summit of Perrin Mountain.
Lupe on the summit of Perrin Mountain.

Perrin Mountain is less than a mile NE of Pactola Reservoir, the largest lake in the Black Hills.  It was rather disappointing that there weren’t any clear views of the reservoir from the summit, or on the way to it.  However, the trail continued SE on past the Hurt Locker sign.  Although it was losing elevation along the way, maybe there would be a viewpoint from somewhere in that direction?

Lupe and SPHP followed the trail all the way down to where it ended, which wasn’t far from the summit.  There were a couple of viewpoints along the trail, not wide open views, but better than anywhere else Lupe had found on Perrin Mountain.  To the S, it was possible to see the large flat meadow Rapid Creek flows through E of the dam.  To the SW, there was one spot with a pretty good look at part of Pactola Reservoir and the dam.

Looking S from the SE end of Perrin Mountain. The large flat meadow where Rapid Creek flows below the dam is seen below.
Looking S from the SE end of Perrin Mountain. The large flat meadow where Rapid Creek flows below the dam is seen below.
Pactola Reservoir and dam from the SE end of Perrin Mountain. Photo looks SW.
Pactola Reservoir and dam from the SE end of Perrin Mountain. Photo looks SW.

Lupe and SPHP climbed back up the trail heading NW to return to the summit.  Lupe posed for another photo there, before starting on the way back to the G6.

Lupe on Perrin Mountain. The rocks to her right are the summit rocks at the very highest point on the mountain. Photo looks NW.
Lupe on Perrin Mountain. The rocks to her right are the summit rocks at the very highest point on the mountain. Photo looks NW.

There were other routes Lupe could have taken back to the G6, but the way Lupe had come up Perrin Mountain had been pretty cool.  It was a nice, easy bit of wandering in the forest on ridges and saddles between high points.  SPHP thought it might be fun to chat with the Subaru person on the way back, but by the time Lupe and SPHP got back to the little road, the Subaru was gone.

Lupe returned to both of the high points N of Perrin Mountain on her return to the G6.  The only memorable event of the return trip was when she spotted a squirrel on her way from the second high point back to the first.  The squirrel eluded her near an interesting rock outcropping, but Lupe didn’t give up easily.  She sniffed around there for a while trying to figure out where that squirrel had disappeared to.  SPHP finally made her move on before she had time to resolve the mystery.

Lupe returned to both of the high points N of Perrin Mountain. Here she is back at the 2nd one (actually the closest to Perrin Mountain).
Lupe returned to both of the high points N of Perrin Mountain. Here she is back at the 2nd one (actually the closest to Perrin Mountain).
Lupe searches for the tricksy squirrel.
Lupe searches for the tricksy squirrel.

By 12:01 PM (50°F), Lupe was back at the G6.  There were a number of Lupe treasures scattered around, so SPHP picked most of them up for disposal later.  With this much time left in the day, Lupe had at least one more peakbagging goal ahead of her.  First though, Lupe and SPHP went to see if it would be possible to get a photo of Perrin Mountain from Pactola Reservoir.

SPHP parked the G6 at the viewpoint at the N end of the dam near the spillway.  The view of Perrin Mountain from near the spillway was none too impressive.  It was a good thing Lupe went there, though.  The place was kind of a mess.  There were Lupe treasures all over the place.  SPHP filled 5 plastic grocery bags full of them.

Lupe near Pactola Reservoir. Photo looks W.
Lupe near Pactola Reservoir. Photo looks W.
Mighty Perrin Mountain towers over the surrounding country NE of the Pactola Reservoir spillway. Well, maybe "towers" isn't the word. At least this photo shows why it wasn't very easy to get a clear shot of Pactola from Perrin Mountain.
Mighty Perrin Mountain towers over the surrounding country NE of the Pactola Reservoir spillway. Well, maybe “towers” isn’t the word. At least this photo shows why it wasn’t very easy to get a clear shot of Pactola from Perrin Mountain.

When SPHP was done collecting Lupe treasures at Pactola, Lupe and SPHP drove N on Hwy 385.  SPHP turned W on Broad Gulch Road (USFS Road No. 676) about 0.5 mile S of the Sugar Shack.  There was a place to park the G6 on the left, right after crossing a cattle guard close to Hwy 385.

At 12:53 PM (50°F), Lupe set out on her second peakbagging quest of the day.  Her new goal was Merritt Peak (5,556 ft.).  The first part of the journey was just a walk up snowy Broad Gulch Road.  Lupe followed the road until it reached its highest point at a saddle.

Lupe on Broad Gulch Road.
Lupe on Broad Gulch Road.

Lupe and SPHP left Broad Gulch Road at the saddle, heading E into the forest.  Surprisingly, there was a trail going this way, too.  The trail went to the N end of the long ridge of which Merritt Peak is a part.  It then turned and followed the ridge line S.  Lupe and SPHP stayed on the trail all the way to Merritt Peak.  The trail didn’t go quite all the way up to the top, instead passing just to the E of the summit.

The trail appeared to continue on to the S, but Lupe and SPHP left it to climb the remaining short distance up to the top of Merritt Peak.  The summit proved to be a ridge a few hundred feet long, and quite flat.  There were small rock outcroppings scattered along the ridge.  It was hard to tell which rock might be the highest point on the mountain.  There were lots of possible candidates, none much higher than any of the others.

Merritt Peak was pretty heavily forested, but here and there it was possible to get a little bit of a view off into the distance in one direction or another.  Enough could be seen between the trees so that it did seem like Lupe was up on a mountain, and not just in a thick forest.  Lupe and SPHP came up near the S end of the ridge, so Lupe explored that end of the mountain first.

A glimpse to the SW from the S end of Merritt Peak.
A glimpse to the SW from the S end of Merritt Peak.
Lupe at one of the highest points near the S end of Merritt Peak. Photo looks NNW along the ridge.
Lupe at one of the highest points near the S end of Merritt Peak. Photo looks NNW along the ridge.
Buck Mountain (5,553 ft.), where Lupe had gone on Expedition No. 151 on 1-5-16, from Merritt Peak. Buck Mountain is about 4 miles E of Merritt Peak. (With help from the telephoto lens.)
Buck Mountain (5,553 ft.), where Lupe had gone on Expedition No. 151 on 1-5-16, from Merritt Peak. Buck Mountain is about 4 miles E of Merritt Peak. (Taken with help from the telephoto lens.)

The N end of Merritt Peak was a bit rockier than the S end.  Custer Peak (6,804 ft.) could be seen in the distance to the NNW.  Minnesota Ridge was off to the NW.  It was time to take a short break.  Lupe was hearing gunfire off to the N, and was getting a little scared.  She was hungry, too.  She ate some Taste of the Wild.  Whenever she heard the guns, though, she wanted to be right next to SPHP.

SPHP shared a jacket with Lupe.  She was trembling a little bit, probably due to the gunfire, but the light N breeze was a bit cool, too.

Lupe at the N end of Merritt Peak. This might have been the highest point on the mountain. It was hard to tell for sure.
Lupe at the N end of Merritt Peak. This might have been the highest point on the mountain. It was hard to tell for sure.
Lupe had some Taste of the Wild at the N end of the Merritt Peak summit ridge.
Lupe had some Taste of the Wild at the N end of the Merritt Peak summit ridge.
Looking NW toward Minnesota Ridge.
Looking NW toward Minnesota Ridge.

Lupe had now achieved two peakbagging goals so far on Expedition No. 152.  Both Perrin Mountain and Merritt Peak had turned out to be pretty fun, easy peaks.  Originally, SPHP had a third possible peakbagging goal in mind for Lupe, but it was probably too late in the day to attempt that one.

However, there was another mountain pretty close by that Lupe might still have time to climb.  Pilot Knob (5,440 ft.) was less than 3 miles N of Merritt Peak.  SPHP knew the top of Pilot Knob was pretty rocky looking, maybe Lupe wouldn’t be able to climb it at all?  In any case, there was enough daylight left to find out.  Lupe would make an attempt on Pilot Knob.

After the break up on Merritt Peak, Lupe and SPHP went back down to the trail and headed N.  Lupe didn’t turn W to go back to Broad Gulch Road when the trail did.  Instead she continued N through the forest.  Eventually she wound up down on Broad Gulch Road again, anyway.  When she reached the G6, it was 2:43 PM (50°F).

On her way to the Pilot Knob trailhead of Centennial Trail No. 89, Lupe stopped by for a photo op at the Sugar Shack.

Lupe dropped by the Sugar Shack along Hwy 385. The Sugar Shack is a popular spot known for great hamburgers. Lupe would have loved to go in for a burger, but no doubt the health department wouldn't have approved. Health departments just don't understand that American Dingoes are way healthier than most people. The Sugar Shack business is currently for sale, so the future is a bit uncertain.
Lupe dropped by the Sugar Shack along Hwy 385. The Sugar Shack is a popular spot known for great hamburgers. Lupe would have loved to go in for a burger, but no doubt the health department wouldn’t have approved. Health departments just don’t understand that American Dingoes are way healthier than most people. The Sugar Shack business is currently for sale, so the future is a bit uncertain.

Despite having a Pilot Knob trailhead, Centennial Trail No. 89 does not actually go to Pilot Knob.  The trail stays about a mile E of it.  Lupe and SPHP started for Pilot Knob on Centennial Trail No. 89, but eventually had to leave it to turn W near Boodleman Spring.

Lupe and SPHP wandered through the forest in the general direction of Pilot Knob.  There was a maze of little roads going this way and that.  Lupe and SPHP took them when they seemed to be going the right direction.  Often they weren’t.  As Lupe got closer to Pilot Knob, the ground got steeper.

What Lupe found approaching the summit from the E was surprising.  SPHP had expected the top of Pilot Knob to be rocky, but the E face was a vertical cliff.  It looked like the rock had been sliced with a knife.  There was no way Lupe and SPHP could go up the E face of the mountain!  Would there be another way?

The E face of Pilot Knob was just a wall of rock. No way Lupe and SPHP could climb that!
The E face of Pilot Knob was just a wall of rock. No way Lupe and SPHP could climb that!

Since Lupe reached Pilot Knob near the SE end of the mountain, Lupe and SPHP went around the S end over to the W side.  The wall of rock really wasn’t terribly thick, so it wasn’t very far to get over there.  Most of the W face of Pilot Knob was every bit as high and vertical as the E face had been, but at the SW corner there was an area of broken rock that didn’t look too bad.

Broken rock at the SW end of Pilot Knob.
Broken rock at the SW end of Pilot Knob.

Lupe and SPHP started climbing.  There was some snow and ice in the shady spots, so it was slick in some places.  Lupe and SPHP succeeded in getting up on the very S end of the ridge.  SPHP abandoned the backpack at a cleft in the rock.  The ridge was only 10 or 12 feet wide at the S end, with sheer drops to the E and W, but there were good hand and foot holds.  Lupe seemed to have no trouble at all.  SPHP climbed slowly and deliberately.

The solid rock ridge got wider and higher as Lupe climbed toward the N.  The E & W cliffs got taller, too, but there was more space to stay away from them.  The easiest way up proved to be along the E side of a rock wall up on the ridge.  If the climb had been much more challenging, SPHP would have just given up on it.  As it was, it was a pretty fun little Class 3 scramble.  Lupe and SPHP made it to the summit to claim Lupe’s third peakbagging success of the day!

Lupe on the summit of Pilot Knob. Photo looks N.
Lupe on the summit of Pilot Knob. Photo looks N.
Unlike Perrin Mountain and Merritt Peak, Pilot Knob was enough of a rocky crag to provide unobstructed 360° views!
Unlike Perrin Mountain and Merritt Peak, Pilot Knob was enough of a rocky crag to provide unobstructed 360° views!

Since Pilot Knob was so rocky, there were unobstructed 360° views from the top.  The views were the best of the day!  SPHP was loving it, but Lupe wasn’t.  Somewhere there was construction going on not too far away, with a lot of banging going on.  There was also a considerable amount of gunfire off to the W.  Someone must have been doing some target practice, since it went on and on.

SPHP persuaded Lupe to get up on some of the rocks for photos, but the gunfire made her quite nervous.  Mostly she just wanted to lay right on SPHP’s lap being petted.  That was OK!  Pilot Knob was a great place to sit and take in the views.  Lupe and SPHP stayed up there at least half an hour gazing at the pretty world.  Pilot Knob turned out to be a great way to end a successful day of peakbagging!

Merritt Peak is the rounded forested high point at the center. Photo looks S from Pilot Knob.
Merritt Peak is the rounded forested high point at the center. Photo looks S from Pilot Knob.
Lupe on one of the highest rocks on Pilot Knob. Hwy 385 is seen toward the right. Photo looks SSE.
Lupe on one of the highest rocks on Pilot Knob. Hwy 385 is seen toward the right. Photo looks SSE.
Looking S.
Looking S.
Looking S.
Looking S.

The sun was very low on the horizon.  SPHP considered staying for the sunset, but there were quite a few clouds off to the W.  Maybe the sun was just going to sink into the clouds without putting on a show.  Since it was a bit tricky getting up here, perhaps it was best for Lupe to get down off the rocky summit while the light was still good.  Still, Lupe and SPHP would have stayed up there, if the sunset had been more promising.

Getting down was slow, but really no problem.  SPHP retrieved the backpack.  Lupe and SPHP circled around the mountaintop to the W and N, just to see what it all looked like.  The W face was even more impressive than the E face.  There might be an easy way up at the N end of the mountain, but SPHP had doubts it was any easier than Lupe’s route had been.

The N face of Pilot Knob.
The N face of Pilot Knob.

As Lupe and SPHP left Pilot Knob behind, heading E again through the forest, the clouds to the W developed a rosy glow.  What little Lupe could see of the sunset looked pretty.  It was better than most, but wasn’t particularly brilliant.  In 10 or 15 minutes, it was all over.  The rosy glow faded from the sky.

Expedition No. 152 ended like so many others, with another march through darkening forests and fields back to the G6.  It had been a fun day.  Three peaks climbed.  All different, but each one a good time in its own way.

Lupe was already back on Centennial Trail No. 89 not far from the G6, when she heard them.  The wild dogs, the coyotes, were howling out there somewhere to the S.  Several times, Lupe stopped and stood still with her ears straight up listening.  She made no sound.  SPHP wondered what she was thinking.

At 5:38 PM (38°F), Lupe was back at the G6.  After eating snow all day, she wanted water.  When she’d had enough, she hesitated just a moment before getting in the G6.  SPHP asked if she wanted to stay out and live with the coyotes?  In January?  At the very thought, the Carolina Dog jumped up into the G6.  Maybe another time.  Tonight – Alpo, a soft bed and warm blankie!

Minnesota Ridge from Pilot Knob.
Minnesota Ridge from Pilot Knob.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s Black Hills Expeditions Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Wyoming Peak, Wyoming (8-28-15)

The morning of 8-28-15, Day 20 of Lupe’s great Summer of 2015 Dingo Vacation, dawned bright and beautiful.  While Lupe started her day playing in the forest near the outlet stream from Spirit Lake in the Uinta Mountains, SPHP had decisions to make.  Up until now, Lupe’s vacation had been going pretty much according to plan.  The trouble was, Lupe had way more yet to do than time remaining to do it all in.

A bright morning greeted Lupe at the outlet stream from Spirit Lake in the Uinta Mountains of Utah.
A bright morning greeted Lupe at the outlet stream from Spirit Lake in the Uinta Mountains of Utah.

Before long, SPHP had decided which adventures had to go on the chopping block for this Dingo Vacation, and which would remain.  It was time to head out.  SPHP called Lupe back to the G6.  After just a few fun days in Utah (where she did live “Life Elevated”!), Lupe was going to head N into southwestern Wyoming.  Lupe loves riding in the G6, and was ready for whatever adventure lay ahead.

The first part of the drive was a long one on gravel USFS Roads.  Lupe left Spirit Lake on USFS Road No. 001.  When it reached the intersection with No. 221, instead of taking it E back to the Sheep Creek Geological Loop, SPHP took it N to Wyoming.  It was a very pretty drive that took Lupe out of the Uinta Mountains.

Lupe finally reached pavement again when she crossed Hwy 414 between McKinnon and Burnt Fork.  N of Hwy 414, a paved road headed NE through scenic ranchlands to meet up with Hwy 530 S of Green River, WY.  Heading N on Hwy 530, there was some pretty wild looking territory off to the E toward the N end of Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area.

After a short stop in the town of Green River, WY, Lupe went W on I-80 just 6 miles to Hwy 372.  Hwy 372 headed NW paralleling the Green River, but at some distance from it, so the river was often out of sight.  This territory was high, dry prairie land.  It was dominated by low hills and sagebrush.  In late August, it all looked hot, dusty and not terribly inviting.  Hwy 372 eventually led to Hwy 189, which Lupe took N to La Barge.

This sign along the Green River told a little about its history during the fur trading days of the early 1800's.
This sign along the Green River told a little about its history during the fur trading days of the early 1800’s.
The Green River was a huge lake N of the Fontenelle Reservoir dam.
The Green River was a huge lake N of the Fontenelle Reservoir dam.
This rather striking butte was E of Hwy 189 just a few miles S of La Barge, WY.
This rather striking butte was E of Hwy 189 just a few miles S of La Barge, WY.

After a quick tour of the small town of La Barge in the G6, Lupe and SPHP drove 2 miles S on Hwy 189, and turned W on La Barge Creek Road, No. 315.  The first 11 miles of No. 315 were paved.  After that it turned to gravel.  The road headed W, before gradually turning N as it followed the beautiful La Barge Creek valley upstream.  The valley grew progressively narrower as the road went on.

La Barge Creek.
La Barge Creek.

La Barge Creek, WY 8-28-15About 20 miles from Hwy 189, suddenly the gravel road deteriorated sharply.  For 3 miles it crossed private land where the road was so poor that SPHP considered just turning the G6 around.  If the road had been at all wet, there wouldn’t have been any choice.  High clearance vehicles wouldn’t have any problem with it, but the road was just about all the challenge the G6 could take on.

After 3 miles, the road entered the Bridger National Forest, where it immediately improved.  There were still some pretty rough spots now and then, but nothing like what the G6 had just come through.  SPHP resolved to leave the area by some other route.

Lupe was now up in the mountains of the Wyoming Range.  Her destination was Wyoming Peak (11,378 ft.), the highest mountain in the entire range.  Of more immediate interest to Lupe, cows were grazing in the high mountain valleys.  There was plenty of hard barking going on in the G6, even though most of the cows were so far away they were unaware of the frantic Carolina Dog passing by.

Lupe was determined to bark at every cow she saw on her 2015 Dingo Vacation, no matter how far away they were.
Lupe was determined to bark at every cow she saw on her 2015 Dingo Vacation, no matter how far away they were.  Actually, it was good enough if she could just smell them.  In her excitement, she barked at plenty of cows that weren’t even there!

SPHP had some notes on how to find the trailhead for Wyoming Peak, but what little signage there was at the few intersections along the road didn’t match up real well with the notes.  SPHP just kept driving slowly N looking for USFS Road No. 10126, which leads to the trailhead.  Finally a high peak came into view.  It had to be Wyoming Peak!

Wyoming Peak is the highest point at the center of this photo. Photo looks NE.
Wyoming Peak is the highest point at the center of this photo. Photo looks NE from Greys River Road.

SPHP soon found USFS Road No. 10126 at the confluence of Greys River and Shale Creek.  This point was 41 miles from where La Barge Creek Road had left Hwy 189.  Greys River was a pretty good sized stream, even in late August, but Shale Creek was quite small.  The trailhead was supposed to be 3.5 miles in along No. 10126.  As poor as the main road had been in places, SPHP didn’t want to try taking the G6 up No. 10126.  Lupe would have to walk.

It seemed like it was already pretty late in the day to think about climbing Wyoming Peak, especially when it was a 3.5 mile hike just to get to the trailhead.  However, SPHP thought it wouldn’t hurt to at least scout things out.  The weather was clear and favorable.  Maybe Lupe could still make it up Wyoming Peak today.  Lupe and SPHP left the G6 at the start of USFS Road No. 10126 at 2:56 PM (70°F), and began following the road up Shale Creek.

There really wasn’t much of a trailhead.  At a bend in the road was a marker, and a trail heading up a hillside, but there were no big signs and no parking area where the trail to Wyoming Peak left No. 10126.  Lupe and SPHP started up the trail.  At first it was pretty steep, but before too long, the trail started on a series of long switchbacks.

Lupe starts her climb up Wyoming Peak. This photo looks W from near the trail.
Lupe starts her climb up Wyoming Peak. This photo looks W from near the trail.

The trail Lupe was following climbs Wyoming Peak from the SW.  It appeared to get only moderate use, and was often rather narrow.  Even so, most of the trail was in quite good condition.  It was always easy to follow.  There was only one tricky spot at a sharp bend where red dirt had eroded away from the trail down into a steep gully.  The tricky part was very short.  Lupe and SPHP were beyond it in just a few seconds.

The entire W slope of Wyoming Peak is consistently steep, but whoever designed the trail did an excellent job.  There were steep parts at the very beginning and the very end, but for the great majority of the climb, the trail consisted of long switchbacks rising at just the right pace.  SPHP didn’t have to stop to rest very often.  It was easy to make fast progress up the mountain.

Before reaching tree line, the trail also made good use of available shade.  It passed through some of the scattered forests along the way.  In between the forested areas, the trail was exposed to big views to the W.  The combination of shady rest stops along with great views made for a very fun climb.

High on the mountain Lupe came to this rocky section of trail. Most of the trail up was not very rocky at all.
High on the mountain Lupe came to this rocky section of trail. Most of the trail was not very rocky at all for such a big mountain.

Near the end of the climb, the trail reached a saddle between Wyoming Peak to the N and Mount March Madness (11,220 ft.) to the S.  Much of the rest of the way to the top, the trail consisted of very short, steep switchbacks full of loose rock.  Despite the late start, Lupe made it to the summit of Wyoming Peak an hour before sunset!

Lupe takes a break at the saddle between Wyoming Peak and Mount March Madness. Photo looks S at Mount March Madness.
Lupe takes a break at the saddle between Wyoming Peak and Mount March Madness. Photo looks S at Mount March Madness, which greatly resembled a pyramid.
Lupe at the summit of Wyoming Peak. What lofty mountaintop is complete without a pile of man-made rubble?
Lupe at the summit of Wyoming Peak. What lofty mountaintop is complete without a despicable pile of man-made rubble?

SPHP was not happy with the ugly collapsed building on top of Wyoming Peak.  SPHP stuffed as many broken little boards with nails in them, and other small hazardous looking pieces of debris as possible into a sack.  The sack went in the backpack to be disposed of later.  Only 10,000 more trips and Wyoming Peak will be junk free again!

The views were really great from Wyoming Peak.  The view that captured the imagination the most was a very high and rugged mountain far away to the N.  It was so far away, the camera just wouldn’t capture its faint outline.  SPHP was almost certain that distant peak had to be the famous Grand Teton (13,770 ft.). Lupe and SPHP spent more than half an hour up on Wyoming Peak, while the sun sank steadily in the W.

Looking N at the rather ominously named Mount Coffin from Wyoming Peak.
Looking N at the rather ominously named Mount Coffin (11,242 ft.) from Wyoming Peak.
Looking NE. The Wind River range could be seen on the horizon, but there was enough smoke haze so the camera didn't pick it up.
Looking NE. The Wind River range could be seen on the horizon, but there was enough haze so the camera didn’t pick it up.
Using the telephoto lens to peer a bit farther N through the smoke haze.
Using the telephoto lens to peer a bit farther N through the smoke haze.  The ridge in the foreground is part of Mount Coffin.
Lupe squints for another photo with the low slanting sunlight on her face. Photo looks SE.
Lupe squints for another photo with the low slanting sunlight on her face. Photo looks SE.
Mount March Madness from the top of Wyoming Peak. Photo looks S.
Mount March Madness from the top of Wyoming Peak. Photo looks S.
Lupe ready for a break from all the photo ops. The shot looks E.
Lupe ready for a break from all the photo ops.  Photo looks E.
Another telephoto lens shot.
Another telephoto lens shot.
You done yet, SPHP? There's not a single squirrel up here!
“You done yet, SPHP? There’s not a single squirrel up here!”

With the sun sinking into a smoky haze from distant forest fires, it wasn’t possible to get a decent picture toward the W.  Lupe and SPHP saw mountain ranges off in that direction, though, too.  They were lined up one after another, fainter and fainter as far off into the horizon as it was possible to see.

Lupe and SPHP sat together admiring the world from the top of Wyoming Peak.  When it became clear the sun was just going to sink into the murk without any particularly wonderful sunset, it was time to go.  Lupe may as well get a good start down the mountain before it got dark.

Lupe does some off trail exploring on the way down Wyoming Peak. Mt. Coffin is seen to the N.
Lupe does some off trail exploring on the way down Wyoming Peak. Mt. Coffin is seen to the N.
Lupe going down the trail SW of Wyoming Peak.
Lupe going down the trail SW of Wyoming Peak.

Fading light from Wyoming Peak, 8-28-15Lupe was about 80% of the way down the trail by the time it was so dark the flashlight had to come out.  When she reached Shale Creek Road (USFS No. 10126) again, Lupe wanted to take a break.  She had water and what was left of her Taste of the Wild.  Then she just curled up for 15 minutes before she was ready to go again.

In the meantime, a nearly full moon had come up over the side of Mount March Madness.  The flashlight was no longer needed.  Together Lupe and SPHP traveled the moonlit road beneath the shining stars.Mount March Madness from Wyoming Peak, WY 8-28-15

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2015 Wyoming, Colorado & Utah Adventure IndexDingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 151 – Buck Mountain (1-5-16)

A cold snap was on the way.  The 5th of January was going to be the last day with highs approaching 40°F for a while.  If Lupe was going to get in another Black Hills, SD Expedition any time soon, it had to be now or never.  Given a choice like that, Lupe and SPHP chose now!

At 9:52 AM, SPHP parked the G6 near the start of USFS Road No. 448 just off Bogus Jim Road.  The day was crisp, clear, and calm.  The G6 said it was 32°F.  It probably was in the sunny spot where the G6 was parked, but as Lupe headed W on No. 448 into the shady valley of the South Fork of Bogus Jim Creek, it felt colder than that.  The forested valley felt like an icebox.

Lupe started Expedition No. 151 to Buck Mountain heading W along snowy USFS Road No. 448.
Lupe started Expedition No. 151 to Buck Mountain heading W along snowy USFS Road No. 448.
In the shady valley of the South Fork of Bogus Jim Creek it was downright chilly. Here Lupe stands on a frozen ice flow from a nearby spring. The ice covers the entire road.
In the shady valley of the South Fork of Bogus Jim Creek it was downright chilly. Here Lupe stands on a frozen ice flow from a nearby spring. The ice covers the entire road.

To get to Buck Mountain (5,553 ft.), Lupe would have to leave the chilly valley, and climb over a ridge to the N to another valley where the Middle Fork of Bogus Jim Creek flows.  After following USFS Road No. 448 for a little over a mile, Lupe and SPHP left the road heading NW.  Lupe climbed through a forest of small trees to arrive at a saddle area.

SPHP had hoped to be able to see Buck Mountain ahead to the N from the saddle, but the area was so heavily forested, it was hard to see much of anything.  An unnamed 5,360 ft. mountain was just NE of the saddle.  It would only require gaining another 200 ft. to get up there.  Maybe Lupe could see Buck Mountain from up there?

When Lupe arrived at the top of the 5,360 ft. mountain, it was very heavily forested, too.  A couple of small openings offered some views toward the S and SW.  Toward the N or NW, though, it was hard to see much of anything.  SPHP could just glimpse a mountain that looked like it was probably about where Buck Mountain should be, but that was about it.

Lupe reaches the top of the 5,360 ft. mountain just SE of Buck Mountain. It was too heavily forested to get more than a glimpse of Buck Mountain from here. Photo looks E.
Lupe reaches the top of the 5,360 ft. mountain just SE of Buck Mountain. It was too heavily forested to get more than a glimpse of Buck Mountain from here. Photo looks E.
Looking SW from the 5,360 ft. mountain.
Looking SW from the 5,360 ft. mountain.

Lupe and SPHP retreated back down to the saddle area.  Lupe went NNW descending into the valley of the Middle Fork of Bogus Jim Creek.  On the way, Lupe found a steep, snowy little road.  In some spots along the road, Buck Mountain was in view.  It was dead ahead to the N.

Lupe on her way down to the Middle Fork of Bogus Jim Creek. Buck Mountain is dead ahead to the N.
Lupe on her way down to the Middle Fork of Bogus Jim Creek. Buck Mountain is dead ahead to the N.
The summit of Buck Mountain from the S.
The summit of Buck Mountain from the S.

The little road took Lupe all the way down to the valley floor.  The Middle Fork of Bogus Jim Creek was very small, but there was some water in it.  Lupe jumped across it, and even SPHP could just step across.  Just beyond the creek was USFS Road No. 202.  Although Buck Mountain was straight ahead just N of the road, the mountain was clearly too steep to climb easily from the S.  Lupe headed W on No. 202.

Before long, Lupe came to a little side valley with an unmarked road in it heading NW.  This was probably USFS Road No. 202.2C.  Lupe and SPHP followed this side road, but not very far.  As soon as it looked like there was another side valley to the NE, Lupe and SPHP headed that way into the forest.  Lupe was circling around to the N side of Buck Mountain.  SPHP hoped and expected Buck Mountain would be relatively easy to climb from the N.

Lupe eventually reached a saddle area N of Buck Mountain.  There was a surprisingly large rock outcropping in the middle of this area between Buck Mountain to the S, and an unnamed mountain to the N.  Lupe and SPHP climbed up on the rocks to see what the route up the N slope of Buck Mountain looked like.

Lupe on part of the large rock outcropping N of Buck Mountain. This isn't even the top of it. Photo looks NW.
Lupe on part of the large rock outcropping N of Buck Mountain. This isn’t even the top of it. Photo looks NW.
Looking S toward Buck Mountain from the large rock outcropping to the N. This view was not entirely encouraging. Buck Mountain looked pretty rocky and steep near the summit!
Looking S toward Buck Mountain from the large rock outcropping to the N. This view was not entirely encouraging. Buck Mountain looked pretty rocky and steep near the summit!

The view of Buck Mountain to the S was rather surprising, and a bit concerning to SPHP.  The summit of Buck Mountain looked very rocky and steep.  The approach from the E actually looked easier than from the N.  However, it also looked like there might be two ridges of rock up at the summit separated by a sizable notch, with the ridge W of the notch being higher and the true summit.  Getting past the notch from the E might be difficult.

It was hard to tell with all the trees, but maybe Lupe wouldn’t even be able to climb Buck Mountain?  That would be disappointing!

There was only one way to find out.  Lupe and SPHP headed straight for Buck Mountain.  SPHP intended to head directly up to the notch, if it was possible.  Lupe didn’t get very far up the N slope before she came to a big rock formation.  A long line of large blocky rocks extended up the mountain forming a N/S ridge.  SPHP wanted to stay to the W of it, but a quick check showed that the ground over there was pretty steep and littered with boulders.

The terrain pretty much forced Lupe and SPHP to go around the NE and then E side of Buck Mountain.  Lupe was able to gain elevation steadily along the way.  To the W was a fairly steep boulder field, but it wasn’t all that high.  Above the boulder field was the wall of rock forming the N/S ridge.  It looked like it might be possible for Lupe to get up there if she climbed toward the SW.

Lupe had no trouble navigating the snowy boulder field.  Taking a slow, cautious approach, SPHP didn’t have much problem with it either.  It took a little while to get up there, but Lupe reached the top of the high rock ridge.  SPHP was a bit apprehensive about what she might see.  SPHP expected Lupe would see a dip of some sort down to a notch, and then another higher rocky spire to the W.  Would Lupe even be able to get over there?

Looks had been deceiving!  There was no notch.  There was no higher ridge to the W.  Lupe was on top of Buck Mountain!  The actual very highest point appeared to be off to the N some distance.  Since Lupe had climbed up closer to the S end of the summit ridge, Lupe and SPHP went to explore the S end of Buck Mountain first.

Lupe reaches the top of Buck Mountain. Photo looks N along the summit ridge. The actual highest point on the mountain is beyond Lupe a little way to the N. Photo looks N.
Lupe reaches the top of Buck Mountain. Photo looks N along the summit ridge. The actual highest point on the mountain is beyond Lupe a little way to the N. Photo looks N.

Even though there were quite a few trees along the rocky summit ridge of Buck Mountain, there were also lots of rather cool rock platforms featuring commanding views in one direction or another.  By moving around to the proper viewpoint, it was possible to get a wide open view in almost any direction.  The S and middle portions of the summit ridge were easy to get around on, too.  The ridge was level enough and wide enough to maneuver easily.

Buck Mountain had quite a few trees even along the rocky summit ridge, but there were lots of cool rock platforms with great views in one direction or another. This photo looks E.
Buck Mountain had quite a few trees even along the rocky summit ridge, but there were lots of cool rock platforms with great views in one direction or another. This photo looks E.
Looking SSE from Buck Mountain.
Looking SSE from Buck Mountain.
Wow! Kind of a dramatic view to the SW. Even though Buck Mountain isn't all that high compared to parts of the Black Hills, it sure felt like Lupe was way up there!
Wow! Kind of a dramatic view to the SW. Even though Buck Mountain isn’t all that high compared to parts of the Black Hills, it sure felt like Lupe was way up there!
Looking E toward Green Mountain (L) and the Bogus Jim Creek valley (R).
Looking E toward Green Mountain (5,240 ft.) (L) and the Bogus Jim Creek valley (R).
Lupe near the S end of Buck Mountain. USFS Road No. 202 is seen in the valley below. Photo looks SW.
Lupe near the S end of Buck Mountain. USFS Road No. 202 is seen in the valley below. Photo looks SW.

After exploring and enjoying the views toward the S end of the mountain, it was time for Lupe to go N and achieve her Buck Mountain peakbagging goal by reaching the very highest point on the mountain.  The N end of the summit ridge was more rugged than the S end.  Lupe and SPHP had to be a little careful along in here.

The N end of the summit ridge was pretty rugged. This photo looks N along the W side of the ridge. The cairn at the top of Buck Mountain is in sight!
The N end of the summit ridge was pretty rugged. This photo looks N along the W side of the ridge. The cairn at the top of Buck Mountain is in sight!

Not far from the cairn at the summit, Lupe and SPHP ran into a 6′ wall of rock blocking the way forward.  There was no way Lupe could see over it.  SPHP climbed up partway to look over the rock wall.  Lupe waited below in a cleft in the rocks for a report.  Which way next?

Lupe waits below in a cleft in the rocks for SPHP to report on how to get around the rock wall blocking the route to the summit cairn.
Lupe waits below in a cleft in the rocks for SPHP to report on how to get around the rock wall blocking the route to the summit cairn.
The summit cairn is now clearly in sight beyond the upper portion of the rock wall blocking Lupe's advance.
The summit cairn is now clearly in sight beyond the upper portion of the rock wall blocking Lupe’s advance.

The blocking rock was only a couple of feet thick, but it didn’t look like a good idea to attempt to go over it.  To the W was a sheer drop off onto a steep boulder field below.  The only way around seemed to be to climb down to the E off the main ridge.  The boulder field on that side of the mountain could be navigated easily enough with some care.

No sooner had Lupe and SPHP started toward the E than SPHP realized there was a convenient platform of rock 1.0 – 1.5 feet wide going all the way around the E side of the rock wall.  Lupe and SPHP took the platform, and got past the rock wall.  Lupe still had to go down off the summit ridge onto the boulder field, but only for a short distance.

Beyond the blocking rock wall just below the E side of the summit ridge. Lupe had to go over the boulders a short distance to where she could climb up to the summit. Photo looks N.
Beyond the blocking rock wall just below the E side of the summit ridge. Lupe had to go over the boulders a short distance to where she could climb up to the summit. Photo looks N.

Lupe and SPHP soon found a short steep little route up to the summit.  SPHP had to climb carefully, but Lupe was up in a flash.  She perched up next to the summit cairn to claim her peakbagging success on Buck Mountain.

Lupe reaches the summit cairn on Buck Mountain! Photo looks N.
Lupe reaches the summit cairn on Buck Mountain! Photo looks N.
Looking S along the summit ridge.
Looking S along the summit ridge.

The N end of the summit ridge was smaller than the S end, and very rocky.  The views were absolutely great, though.  With Lupe’s peakbagging goal accomplished, Lupe and SPHP took a break on the rocks just N of the cairn.

Lupe wasn’t in the mood for her usual Taste of the Wild for some reason.  She seemed concerned that the cheese sandwich SPHP had brought along might be too big for just one measly human.  She was pretty insistent that SPHP needed help.  With the Carolina Dog’s kind assistance, what remained of the cheese sandwich was quite manageable for SPHP.

Looking N from near the summit cairn.
Looking N from near the summit cairn.
Lupe, now satisfyingly full of cheese sandwich, at the break spot just N of the summit cairn. Photo looks S.
Lupe, now satisfyingly full of cheese sandwich, at the break spot just N of the summit cairn. Photo looks S.

Some Black Hills mountains turn out to be just high spots in a thick forest with no views.  That’s pretty common, actually.  Buck Mountain turned out to be a very fun peak for Lupe and SPHP.  It was just a little bit challenging, but rewarded the effort with lots of splendid views from a variety of lookout points.

Lupe and SPHP lingered up on Buck Mountain for quite a while enjoying the moment.  Before heading down, SPHP scouted a little way to the N to see if there was a better way off the mountain.  In the end, Lupe and SPHP returned the way they came.  Lupe took one more trip to the S end of the summit ridge for a final look.  Then it was time to scramble down the little boulder field on the E side of the mountain.

Lupe back down below the boulder field on the E side of the mountain. The large rocks of the summit ridge are seen above the boulders.
Lupe back down below the boulder field on the E side of the mountain. The large rocks of the summit ridge are seen above the boulders.

Once down below the boulder field, Lupe and SPHP headed N back to the saddle area close to the large rock outcropping.  Lupe seemed rather glad to be down off Buck Mountain.  She enjoyed running around in the forest.  She saw a squirrel run into a hollow log.  She spent a good 10 minutes trying to figure out how to get at it.  She kept running around the log sniffing, and suddenly stopping to dig frantically here and there.

Lupe trying to get a squirrel out of a hollow log. It was fun, but futile - the squirrel was safe inside.
Lupe trying to get a squirrel out of a hollow log. It was fun, but futile – the squirrel was safe inside.

The squirrel was totally safe.  Lupe could not get it.  She had fun trying, although she yipped in frustration now and then, too.  When she was ready to give it up, Lupe and SPHP started the trek back to the G6.  Instead of retracing Lupe’s earlier route, Lupe and SPHP headed down the E side of the saddle.

Although not as dramatic as climbing a mountain, Lupe enjoyed exploring the forest on the way back.  She reached the G6 again at 3:55 PM (35°F).  On the way home, Lupe barked at the usual cows and horses.  She also branched out into barking at something a bit more exotic.

Peacocks along Bogus Jim Road.
Peacocks along Bogus Jim Road.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s Black Hills Expeditions Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to new Lupe adventures.

Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 150 – New Year’s Eve Peak & Peak 5800 (1-1-16)

At 10:41 AM, SPHP parked the G6 at the junction of USFS Road No. 710 and Hwy 385, just a few miles S of Pactola Reservoir in the central Black Hills.  Lupe was late, a whole day late.  A week or more of cold weather had lasted right on up through New Year’s Eve.  The cold had kept Lupe and SPHP from coming until now.

Today, however, was different.  It was New Year’s Day 2016!  The Black Hills were warming up.  Although the temperature would only gain another couple of degrees the rest of the day, it was already 38°F out.  Plenty warm for one of Lupe’s Black Hills Expeditions, and a great way to start 2016 out!

Late though she was, Lupe started out trotting W along USFS Road No. 710.  Here in the shade of Peak 5800, there were 3 or 4 inches of snow on the ground.  Lupe was really happy to be out on an adventure again.  Soon she was racing around through the snow off the road, sniffing madly as she went.  No. 710 climbed slowly and steadily up a little forested valley.  After nearly a mile, No. 710 started turning S as it emerged from the valley into more level and open ground.

Lupe and SPHP left No. 710 as it curled back to the SE.  Lupe went S up to the edge of some high hilly ground.  Much of this area had burned some time ago, and there were very few trees left.  Without the trees, there were some pretty nice views to the E, S & W.  Small outcroppings of jagged dark rocks, often standing on end, were exposed, and added interest to the scene.

Lupe in the barren hilly area after leaving USFS Road No. 710. Photo looks SW.
Lupe in the barren hilly area after leaving USFS Road No. 710. Photo looks SW.

Lupe was on her way to Peak 6046.  The first time Lupe and SPHP ever climbed Peak 6046 was back on New Year’s Eve 2012.  At the time, SPHP had privately designated Peak 6046 as New Year’s Eve Peak (6,046 ft.).  Lupe had returned on the last day of 2014, too.  So in both 2012 and 2014, Lupe and SPHP had watched the sun set on the last day of the year up on New Year’s Eve Peak.  It has become a little bit of a tradition.

The forested summit of New Year's Eve Peak barely pokes above the barren ridge on the R. Pistol Point is the highest barren hill at the center of the photo. Photo looks WNW.
The forested summit of New Year’s Eve Peak barely pokes above the barren ridge on the R. Pistol Point is the highest barren hill at the center of the photo. Photo looks WNW.

Even though the cold weather caused Lupe and SPHP to miss sunset on the last day of 2015 up on New Year’s Eve Peak, it still seemed appropriate to try to make up for it by showing up on New Year’s Day 2016.

Lupe at Pistol Point, privately named for the rock right behind Lupe that looks just a bit like the handle of a pistol jammed down into the ground. Pistol Point is at the S end of a ridge that comes sweeping down from New Year's Eve Peak to the SSE.
Lupe at Pistol Point, privately named for the rock right behind Lupe that looks just a bit like the handle of a pistol jammed down into the ground. Pistol Point is at the S end of a ridge that comes sweeping down from New Year’s Eve Peak to the SSE.

Lupe and SPHP wandered among the barren hills heading W towards Pistol Point.  Pistol Point is just a private name for the high point at the S end of a ridge that comes sweeping down to the SSE from New Year’s Eve Peak.  From Pistol Point, Lupe would just follow this ridge to reach the summit of New Year’s Eve Peak.

Looking NNW at New Year's Eve Peak from Pistol Point.
Looking NNW at New Year’s Eve Peak from Pistol Point.
Peak 5917 from Pistol Point. Photo looks ENE.
Peak 5917 from Pistol Point. Photo looks ENE.
Lupe on the ridge S of New Year's Eve Peak. The summit is the high point toward the R. Photo looks NNW.
Lupe on the ridge S of New Year’s Eve Peak. The summit is the high point toward the R. Photo looks NNW.

As Lupe and SPHP neared the summit of New Year’s Eve Peak, it became apparent that there had been changes since the last time Lupe was here a year and a day ago.  There had been a fair amount of logging done to thin the trees on the S side of the summit.  Although the logging hadn’t done a thing for the appearance of the local vicinity, SPHP anticipated it might have opened up the views quite a bit.

When Lupe arrived at the highest rock outcropping on New Year’s Eve Peak, she found that someone had placed a small cairn there.  With a lot of the trees gone from the S side of the summit area, the mountain looked and felt different.  The summit used to be in the gloomy dark shade of tall pines.  Now it was much more open and bright.  Nearby were sunny expansive views to the S.

It appeared that only a small part of the S side of the summit area had been logged.  In other directions, New Year’s Eve Peak looked pretty much the same.

Lupe on the summit of New Year's Eve Peak. This was her 3rd time on the mountain. Photo looks W.
Lupe on the summit of New Year’s Eve Peak. This was her 3rd time on the mountain. Photo looks W.
With so many trees gone from the S side of the summit area, there was a wide open view of Harney Peak (the high point on the far horizon just above Lupe's head). A year and a day ago, this photo wouldn't have been possible. Photo looks S.
With so many trees gone from the S side of the summit area, there was a wide open view of Harney Peak (the high point on the far horizon just above Lupe’s head). A year and a day ago, this photo wouldn’t have been possible. Photo looks S.
Harney Peak from New Year's Eve Peak. Five Points is the wavy ridge seen above Lupe's tail. Photo looks S.
Harney Peak (7,242 ft.) from New Year’s Eve Peak. Five Points (6,221 ft.) is the wavy ridge seen above Lupe’s tail. Photo looks S.
Lupe on the very summit of New Year's Eve Peak. Photo looks N.
Lupe on the very summit of New Year’s Eve Peak. Photo looks N.
Lupe on the highest rock outcropping on New Year's Eve Peak. The small cairn in front of her was new since the last day of 2014. Photo looks S and shows how few trees are left in that direction. At the end of 2014, the entire summit was heavily forested.
Lupe on the highest rock outcropping on New Year’s Eve Peak. The small cairn in front of her was new since the last day of 2014. Photo looks S and shows how few trees are left in that direction. At the end of 2014, the entire summit was heavily forested.
Looking W from New Year's Eve Peak.
Looking W from New Year’s Eve Peak.
Looking SE from New Year's Eve Peak with the telephoto lens. Shown are Boulder Hill (L), Silver Mountain (Center) and Calumet Ridge (R) beyond Sheridan Lake.
Looking SE from New Year’s Eve Peak with the telephoto lens. Shown are Boulder Hill (5,331 ft.) (L), Silver Mountain (5,405 ft.) (Center) and Calumet Ridge (5,601 ft.) (R) beyond Sheridan Lake.

After posing for pictures on New Year’s Eve Peak, Lupe had some Taste of the Wild.  SPHP ate an orange.  A chill breeze out of the N stirred up now and then.  New Year’s Eve Peak sure seemed different.

The change was partly due to the logging opening up the view, but mostly psychological.  Lupe and SPHP were here hours earlier in the day than in either 2012 or 2014.  Back then, Lupe had been here near sunset on the last day of the year.  The mood had been reflective, one of looking back at a year gone by – a year still alive and glowing, but about to disappear never to see the light of day again.  A year imminently fading into history.  New Year’s Eve Peak had been a lonely, remote, and faintly sad place.

Now, it was lighter and brighter out.  The fact that it was New Year’s Day instead of New Year’s Eve, created a mood of a new beginning, the start of something.  New Year 2016 was here, all shiny, new, full of promise and possibilities, none of which had been missed or wasted yet.  New Year’s Eve Peak was only the tiniest start of the journey to all the adventures in store for Lupe in 2016.

Lupe and SPHP did something they hadn’t had time to do on New Year’s Eve Peak before.  Lupe went to explore the N and E ridges.  The N ridge wasn’t very long.  It ended at a huge tangle of deadfall timber.  Beyond it, Lupe could see the Seth Bullock Lookout Tower on Scruton Mountain (5,922 ft.).  SPHP had wanted to get a good look at it, but with all the deadfall around, it was best to just get Lupe out of there.

It was a little longer trek, still under 10 minutes, over to the high point of the E ridge of New Year’s Eve Peak.  There was a much bigger rock outcropping there, but the highest point was clearly somewhat lower than the true summit Lupe had been to already.  Furthermore, the area was pretty heavily forested.  There weren’t views in any direction.

Even though Lupe hadn’t found anything of particular interest at either the N or E ridges of New Year’s Eve Peak, it was still fun to have explored the mountain a little better.  With the explorations complete, Lupe and SPHP returned to the S ridge to retrace Lupe’s route back toward the G6.  SPHP had one more peakbagging goal for Lupe that would alter part of that route – Peak 5800.

Lupe back at Pistol Point at the end of the S ridge from New Year's Eve Peak. Peak 5800, which Lupe would try to climb next, is the highest hill seen above Lupe. Photo looks E.
Lupe back at Pistol Point at the end of the S ridge from New Year’s Eve Peak. Peak 5800, which Lupe would try to climb next, is the highest hill seen above Lupe. Photo looks E.
Peak 5800 from Pistol Point using the telephoto lens.
Peak 5800 from Pistol Point using the telephoto lens.

On at least a couple of prior occasions, Lupe and SPHP have considered climbing Peak 5800.  SPHP remembers once standing with Lupe at the base of the rocky W face contemplating the climb.  It had been late on a dark gray day, though, with some snow already on the ground, and more light snow already swirling in the air.  It didn’t seem like a smart move at the time, so Lupe and SPHP had just returned to the G6.

Under the bright, cool, cloudless skies of New Year’s Day 2016, though, it looked like it should be possible to climb Peak 5800 without difficulty, if a reasonable route existed up the rocky W face.  After reaching Pistol Point again, Lupe and SPHP left the S ridge from New Year’s Eve Peak, and headed E toward Peak 5800, still retracing Lupe’s earlier route.

Getting closer to Peak 5800. Photo looks E.
Getting closer to Peak 5800. Photo looks E.

As Lupe started getting close to Peak 5800, she wandered a bit to the S, away from her earlier route.  She checked out views from some of the high points of the barren, rocky hills.  Back to the NW, the high forested ridge of New Year’s Eve Peak started to look small and far away.

Lupe poses on a rock on one of the barren hills for a photo looking WNW back at New Year's Eve Peak, the forested hill seen above her on the horizon.
Lupe poses on a rock on one of the barren hills for a photo looking WNW back at New Year’s Eve Peak, the forested hill seen above her on the horizon.

Lupe and SPHP continued E toward Peak 5800.  Suddenly Lupe saw something she very rarely sees out on her Black Hills Expeditions.  People!  Two people were near some rocks to the SE.  One of them had a rifle.  The other was just a boy.  They weren’t too far away.  Lupe stayed very close to SPHP.  The man and boy started moving toward Peak 5800.

About the only places Lupe and SPHP ever see people in the hills are highways and some major gravel roads, where they are plentiful.  Sometimes there are people on minor roads and ATV trails, but almost without exception, they are with some kind of vehicle – an ATV, a jeep, a motorcycle, something.  Only on a few of the major maintained trails does Lupe ever see anyone on foot – yet here were two people on foot at least a mile from any significant road or trail.

Lupe and SPHP followed the hunter and the boy toward Peak 5800, and soon caught up with them.  What were they hunting?  The man pointed down to a track in the snow.  Mountain lions.  They were hunting a big Tom that they knew had been here recently.  The track looked old, though.  It wasn’t very distinct.  The hunter knew the big cat could be very far away by now.

The boy seemed very impressed with the notion that lions were around here somewhere.  He was an outdoor kid, something pretty rare these days.  He talked in hushed tones about catching a 5 lb. monster trout in Pactola Lake just a few weeks ago.  He liked the looks of Lupe, but didn’t try to pet her.  Lupe just stood close to SPHP during the quiet conversation with the hunter and the boy.  She didn’t interrupt in any way.

By now, Lupe and SPHP were pretty close to Peak 5800.  The W face loomed almost directly ahead.  SPHP explained to the hunter that Lupe planned to climb the mountain and go down over the other side, where the G6 was parked close to Hwy 385.  The hunter and boy intended to stay here, W of Peak 5800.

Lupe and SPHP went on.  In just a few minutes, Lupe started the climb up the W face.  It was steep and quite rocky, with scratchy brambles clinging to the soil between the rocks.  There was always a good route up, though, and the climb wasn’t really all that far, just a couple hundred feet of elevation gain at most.

Lupe nearing the top of Peak 5800. Photo looks WNW back toward New Year's Eve Peak.
Lupe nearing the top of Peak 5800. Photo looks WNW back toward New Year’s Eve Peak.

Near the top, the mountain was suddenly much less steep.  The rest of the way was a pretty easy stroll.  At the highest point, a big, flat slab of rock tilted perhaps 20 degrees down toward the NW.  Lupe and SPHP clambered up on the rock to reach the summit of Peak 5800.

The sun was still up.  There might be an hour of daylight left before sunset.  The world looked very pretty in the slanting rays of the sun.  Lupe looked around.  If Peak 5800 was the home of mountain lions, they had all fled at the approach of a fearsome Carolina Dog, for no lions were to be seen anywhere.

Lupe reaches the summit of Peak 5800. New Year's Eve Peak is seen in the distance to the WNW on the L.
Lupe reaches the summit of Peak 5800. New Year’s Eve Peak is seen in the distance to the WNW on the L.
Lupe surveys the rest of the mountain from the top of Peak 5800. Nope, not seeing any mountain lions up here! Photo looks E.
Lupe surveys the rest of the mountain from the top of Peak 5800. Nope, not seeing any mountain lions up here! Photo looks E.
Looking SE along the Peak 5800 ridgeline from the summit. Lupe would soon go explore over to the far end of the ridge seen here.
Looking SE along the Peak 5800 ridgeline from the summit. Lupe would soon go explore over to the far end of the ridge seen here.

The top of Peak 5800 is a fairly broad and level ridgeline, most of which extends out to the SE from the true summit.  Lupe and SPHP explored as far as the highest point near the SE end just before the mountain begins to drop off much more steeply.

From a point a little N of the SE high point, Lupe and SPHP headed down the NE slopes of Peak 5800.  The heavily forested slope was steeper than expected, and a bit slippery in the snow, but not too much of a challenge.  Lupe sniffed around not finding so much as a squirrel, never mind a mountain lion, while SPHP slowly worked on down the mountain.

Lupe and SPHP reached the G6 again at 4:07 PM (32°F).  New Year 2016 was off to a great start, with Lupe’s 150th Black Hills, SD Expedition a success.  Nevertheless, it was a little sad that Lupe and SPHP hadn’t gotten to New Year’s Eve Peak in time for a proper final good-bye to 2015, a year in which Lupe had many glorious adventures.

With a little luck, Lupe and SPHP will return to New Year’s Eve Peak in time to say good-bye to 2016, but not until after many more long, daring and inspiring American Dingo adventures yet to come!

Looking NW along the ridgeline from the SE high point back toward the true summit of Peak 5800. New Year's Eve Peak is still seen in the distance toward the L.
Looking NW along the ridgeline from the SE high point back toward the true summit of Peak 5800. New Year’s Eve Peak is still seen in the distance toward the L.

Happy New Year 2016 to all from Lupe!  May your 2016 be full of fun adventures and dreams come true!

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